A Dramatic Resort Design Having A Fort Like Structure At The Edge Of A Forest _ d6thD design studio

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

A Dramatic Resort Design Having A Fort Like Structure At The Edge Of A Forest _ d6thD design studio

This boldly dramatic resort, home to sixteen cottages, is located at the very edge of Gir National Park and wildlife sanctuary; the sole home of the Asiatic lion, surrounded by 1400 sq. km. forest in Gujarat and was built on new vernacular style by the d6thd design studio of Ahmadabad.

Guests are immersed in nature with fort-like circular cottages inspired by a combination of local nomadic community houses and the boldness of lion-the king of the forest.

Looking at how nomadic man set up circular houses in the forest; this dynamic allows one to instinctively experience the psychological assurance of security on the one hand and the exhilaration of exposure and proximity to nature on the other.

Once the guest is in a circular cottage, he is cozy and protected. He has everything he needs, as in a womb.

The design consequently became a physical interpretation of primal, yet human, home-making instincts, but with an association between the abstract and the organic.

Further to the design direction was the ecologically sensitive notion to "embrace the nature gently", meaning that no aspect of the construction should impose on the existing mango trees since the site was a farm having mango trees at thirty feet interval in the grid. It seems like the cottages in this primitive form are planted on this site among towering old mango trees and peacocks strutting around without disturbing the natural environment. Instead of chopping down trees and building the resort, the cottages were designed to grow around the trees, and integrate them into the built environment.

One approaches the resort via a long driveway lined by trees on either side through surrounding local farms towards the forest.

Once you reach the resort, one can catch a glimpse of the resort through the foliage and this adds a sense of mystery and drama which is accentuated especially in the forest landscape.

The body of the cottages hides behind trees like a lion behind bushes.

The scheme contains 16 cottages, 2 informal living rooms, 1 dining area, and a big multi-purpose hall. There is a total of 4 clusters, each having 4 cottages. Two cottages on the lower floor and two on top of that to make less foot print and achieve economy.

Out of these four, 2 clusters having a courtyard with a mango tree formed by joining the lower two cottages with the additional facility of hexagonal-shaped semi-covered informal living space and a small pantry to be used for leisure activities.

The upper two cottages have access through their open helical staircase of rough Kota stone and thus maintain privacy and at the same time possibility of interaction of both cottages by sharing a common balcony in case of the single group visitors.

Exposed brickwork using locally available thin bricks in its naked form gives the entire resort a very earthy feel which will be enhanced as it gains additional patina over time and the construction techniques using random rubble stone foundation, load-bearing exposed brick walls, arches, sandstone jalis, and clay tile roof have contributed to the low cost of the project. The honesty and simplicity of materials and techniques employed are not just time-tested and reliable but reflect a cultural sensitivity towards the area.

A short walk on a random pathway along the landscape before entering the cottage builds up an element of anticipation.

Courtyard with a mango tree within the cottage cluster acts as a transition space between the more private cottage bedroom and the informal semi-open living area.

Each cluster has a large foyer space shaded by a mango tree that welcomes the visitors before entering the cottage.

Inbuilt sit-outs from sand stone below mango tree allow for an intimate interface with the outdoors where you actually wouldn't need a book.

The mango trees have become an inseparable and important part of the architectural vocabulary - the tree and the resort seem to complement each other. Balcony with an unobstructed panoramic view becomes a fascinating extension for the upper-level cottages. The open helical staircase leading to the upper floor is interestingly done with open riser rough Kota stone, adding drama to space.

Cottages with small window openings respond to the hot and dry climate of the region.

Due to its circular shape, there is only one line that is directly perpendicular to the sun rays hitting the surface of the structure at a time.

Hence, most of the heat is reflected away, making it more comfortable during the hot season.

This circular shape is also well known for its structural stability during natural calamities like earthquakes and cyclonic winds.

The round shape requires 10% less wall than a square, and almost 15% less than a rectangle, to enclose the same floor area.

This means less exterior wall and less foundation wall to pay for initially.

The resort has a unique green quotient; being located on rocky terrain, it had a reduced foundation requirement; no trees were cut down and all the wild species of plants found on-site and around were not only retained but propagated as well.

The door and window frame has been made from local neem wood available in the forest.

Only locally available bricks and sandstone within less than 50 km. radius was used for the masonry.

This feature along with engaging local laborers brought down the overall travel miles incurred.

Rain water runoff is used to water the adjoining farm where organic vegetables produce at a small scale for guests.

An intriguing play of volumes, scale, spatial planning & courtyards, are all which have a strong underlying cohesiveness within the resort. The spaces move from light to dark, hot to cool, public to private, reflected through variations in scale & proportion, producing very interesting spaces. The sequencing and orientation of the cottage clusters are random based on the space discovered between existing mango trees break down the monotony and offer various perspectives to enjoy the beauty of circular mass.

Experience of wildness takes primacy over formal gestures. Sun, rain, and wind freely pierce the property and will mark it over the years. Clay roofing tile and the exposed brick surface will gradually get covered with radiant moss; nature will fight its way back. Living in a forest is about witnessing this war.

This feeling of closeness with the natural world is never more apparent than during an evening spent on local wooden charpai under the stars, listening to the wind rustling in the mango trees and the distant call of a roaring lion. There is an element of vulnerability certainly, but more than that, it brings a humbling awareness of one's place in the world and harmony with the Earth. The smells and sounds of the bush soon become a rhythmic lullaby that sends guests into a long and restful slumber.

d6thD design studio erects a "New Nomad" fort-like structure in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, India.

Architects: d6thD design studio

Project: Shyam Farm Forest Resort

Type: Eco-Resort

Built-up Area: 1300 mt²

Site Area: 1.5 Acre

Cost: INR 1,25,00,000

Year: 2016

Location: Bhojde Village, Gir Lion Sanctuary, Gujarat, India

Lead Architect: Ar. Himanshu Patel

Drawings: Nitin Panchal

Client: Hotel Shyam Farm & Resort

Text: Ar. Himanshu Patel

Photographs: Inclined Studio -Maulik Patel

About d6thD design studio:

d6thD means The 6th dimension to “feel good”

They design to let you feel good. The 6th dimension is not restricted to measure the physical world but to explore the Feel Good Spaces. Any object or space can be measure in 3 Dimension but to feel good about it is the 6th dimension.

d6thD promotes the use of locally available materials, traditional building techniques, culturally and climatically relevant building design. They are passionate about design, but driven by ideas rather than personalities. They are interested in exploring the ways in which spaces can create experiential happiness.

d6thD visualizes the practice as a sheltered and collaborative place for reflection, where a community (including clients and other collaborators) can reflect on how to make life happy and feel good through architecture.

Ar. Himanshu Patel is an ardent architect (2006) from M.S.University. After graduation, he has worked in one of the foremost international architectural firms (arif & bintoak) in Emirates. His research work as a cm fellow (2009) on high-profile Gujarat tourism projects has been well recognized on social development under the Chief Minister’s Fellowship Program. His practice in vernacular architecture is inextricably bound with his entire childhood spent in a village. Since last five years, his Ahmadabad based d6thD design studio promotes the use of locally available materials, traditional building techniques, culturally and climatically relevant building design. Retrospective of his work in various region of Gujarat reflects his perseverance to design with overt principle of vernacular architecture. He has lectured and conducted workshops widely related to vernacular architecture among several colleges and universities in India.