60-second Interview: Dinesh Panwar, principal architect, Urbanscape Architects
The Heritage Villa is an adaptive reuse project that has been designed for timeless, opulent modern-day living. Dinesh Panwar of Urbanscape Architects explains the process adopted for the restoration.
What was your design approach with The Heritage Villa project?
The design approach is rooted in age-old architectural practice and intelligent planning; a vivid vision in terms of design language and form is therefore adopted to craft the perfect amalgam of the old and the new. Since the site belonged to the heritage buildings category, the restoration of the highly dilapidated structure was the biggest challenge faced. Hence, a meticulous conservation process was adopted. With the help of structural engineers and restoration specialists from across the country, the process of stabilisation of the structure was given foremost importance.
How did you strike a balance between restoring the original villa and making it suitable for modern-day living?
The building has been restored completely. It was reconditioned to adhere to current earthquake resistance standards. The outer façade and the exterior walls have been maintained, while only repairing the structural elements essential for safety. Subsequently, the existing walls have been restored – breathing life into a dying architectural marvel.
The interiors resonate eclecticism and grandeur. Most spaces have flooring in a mosaic pattern, enabled in two stones – statuario and bottochino. An unconventional style is adopted for the mouldings on the ceilings – MS jaalis hung in front of the cove give the entire ambience a unique persona in terms of detailing and lighting. The repetitive arches on the façade and scale of the courtyard ensure that the colonial character of the structure is maintained. Strict proportions, anthropomorphic motifs and moulding details, along with traditional construction technologies are adopted through the entire restoration process, while striking a balance between a sumptuous and pragmatic design.
Do you believe that we need to work on more reuse projects in India?
This project had a prominent history and presence, hence restoring it was the most sensible option. The built structures around us connect us to our past and to previous generations. Dismantling them involves a lot of economic strain, air- and noise-pollution. We need good examples to set a trend where old buildings are respected and restored for what they can be. These don’t have to be adhered to only because of bye-laws and government restrictions, but designers should accept them as challenges and create something extraordinary from them. Let’s respect what was done in the past and try and make it better if possible.