Rohan Chavan Architects is a young architecture firm that has managed to earn credibility in less than a decade. The principal architect Rohan Chavan has worked under master architects such as Charles Correa, Christopher Benninger, and Rahul Mehrotra. His passion for design and his signature approach is embodied in the firm’s work. The firm takes up projects and works on them with a single goal – to make the most of what has been offered.
The Lightbox – Restroom for Women is perhaps the most known work of the firm. Although a seemingly simple topic, it sadly remains taboo in our country. In contrast, the principal architect has a very different view of it. For him, the most critical part of the project is not the toilets but the structure of the Lightbox. Right from the perforations in outer walls to allow the creepers to thrive, to the seamless polyurethane flooring to help maintain public toilets, thoughtfulness is ingrained in every detail of the Lightbox.
The design philosophy running through all their projects is to instigate interactions wherever possible while rooting the design in its context. In an urban project like the Lightbox, there is seating provided inside the glass box, existing trees provide shade to the structure during the daytime, and the interiors of the Lightbox illuminate the surroundings in the evening. In a cultural project like Badami Museum of Rock Cuts and Rock Cut Architecture, the proposed design uses water as a medium to connect people and the surroundings.
“Context and situation are two very crucial elements. Anything alien from its surroundings works for a certain time, say for a year or two. For something to have longevity, it is crucial to investigate the context or the history, or whatever has happened in that place before. What can happen is based deeply on what has already happened. There is a compelling connection between the past and the present. That is what you see in the Museum of Rock Cuts. In the Lightbox, we have used a lot of existing situations to mould the design,” says Rohan Chavan candidly.
Light is another aspect that the firm is keen on having in their designs. Employing open spaces and an innovative roof in residential projects such as House with a Floating Roof, Chandigarh is a prime example. In institutional projects, such as Performing Arts in Gadhinglaj and the Center for Culture and Sports in Kolhapur, introducing natural light is pivotal. In such cases, skylights are employed only in areas that are either voluminous or transitional. This consideration makes spaces arid but not uncomfortable due to heat gain.
Light is another aspect that the firm is keen on having in their designs. Employing open spaces and an innovative roof in residential projects such as House with a Floating Roof, Chandigarh is a prime example.
Heavily involved in urban projects, it is safe to say that the principal architect does not see each project as a singular entity but as what the project can offer the occupants and their surroundings. The Balasaheb Smruti Udyan in Colaba was designed for Prabhodan Prakashan, and the BMC is a recent urban project by the firm. A triangular green patch in front of NGMA and CSMVS has been divided into three parts. One section is a dedicated green softscape, a second section works as a pedestrian plaza and functions as a pedestrian crossover, and the third section contains a pedestal having five platforms that sport a statue of Shri Balasaheb Thackeray.
The firm is currently engaged in several interesting projects that are worth looking out for in the future. Home on the Highway in Chitradurga is a project that targets weary truck drivers and aims at providing them with basic amenities like toilets, clean drinking water, spaces to rest and eat, and much more. A feature to look out for in this upcoming project is the attempt to create a microclimate within the premises to combat the harsh climate of Chitradurga. Sasmal Farm Stay and A Day in the Garden, Kolhapur are some other projects that we will see from the firm in the future.
For something to have longevity, it is crucial to investigate the context or the history, or whatever has happened in that place before. What can happen is based deeply on what has already happened.
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