Brick Becomes the Star Material
The boys’ hostel block of the St. Andrews Institute of Technology and Management designed by ZED Lab is a meticulously designed, well-engineered complex that obtains its character from the basic building block – the brick.The hostel setting is a sight to behold. From the detailed brick façade that twists in its axis to concrete flowing seating arrangement provided at the entry of the hostel, large corridors, intimate gardens to bind spaces, the entire complex is an architectural delight, with a simple material palette but a complex design that is arrived at through deep research. The building maintains a strong horizontal emphasis and utilises a restrained material palette consisting of exposed concrete in the supporting structure of the façade. The design of the hostel block creates a sense of community and reflects the contemporary nature of the university buildings. It houses a fluid sequence of socially functional and environmentally sustainable spaces.
At ZED Lab, the designers do not view sustainability and design in silos rather they thrive to design sustainable interventions as indispensable components that enhance the experience of the built environment.
“Factors such as the orientation of the building, materiality, and creation of spaces in the hostel block derive existence through comprehensive research, based on climatic conditions, sun path analysis, and air movement. The brick envelope of the building harnesses software technology such as Ecotek, Grasshopper, Ladybird, and Rhino to create a sustainable design narrative,” says Sachin Rastogi, the designer at ZED lab.
The boys’ hostel building reinterprets Indian vernacular architecture with ideas relevant to the present times and techniques. Anticipating the importance of student interaction with the spaces, the landscape around and amongst themselves, the galactic indoor spaces are design extensions of the exteriors. The layered interior planning of the building with passive design strategies facilitates comfortable communication amongst the students.
The contorted central atrium allows natural light to penetrate deeper into the building. It also acts as a solar chimney that takes away the stale and hot air within the building through the stack effect. The block accommodates residential units for 360 students with inclusive recreational courts and mess facilities. The triple-height spacious dorms depart from the conventional style of dorms, providing an enhanced user experience and a more expansive view of the outdoors to the students.
“The use of software technology and computational studies is pertinent to the design of the brick jaali that circumscribes the building, providing thermal insulation and ingress of diffused natural light. The simulations or the parametric scripts designed using software and conclusions drawn from the analysis of climatic conditions that “discussed the existing radiation and the appropriate amount of radiation that should enter through the façade. Later running the simulations on each brick, we derived a composition that comprises arrangements/layers of bricks rotated and then placed at regular intervals,” says Payal Seth Rastogi, the co-partner of the firm, “The jaali façade has 1″ thick steel bars fixed on R.C.C beams using Hilti chemicals. To hold the brick arrangement, a single piece steel bar pierces through the customized bricks manufactured with holes, with no cement mortar used to construct the 21 feet long jaali envelope.”
The combination of the angled volume of the part ground floor and the linear shape of the first floor creates a shaded entrance (summer court) and an open terrace (winter court) on the south and north facades respectively. The interactive composition forms the social heart of the block, creating a stimulating experiential space for students to engage in discussions, socialize, or withdraw from time to time.
The landscaped ramp located within the summer court acts as a transition space between the harsh outdoor and relaxed indoors protecting students from getting a thermal shock. This ramp leads to the light-filled cafeteria reinforcing the university’s focus on generous spaces for students to interact at a larger scale.
Presently, the jaali profile and its composition are essential factors that reduce the heat energy of direct radiations by 70%, thus providing comfortable habitable spaces. However, the jaali also provides daylighting levels in the dorms equal to 250 lux. The balconies located within the brick skin are 4 feet wide. The balconies or the buffer zones between indoor and outdoor spaces control the mean temperature of the building throughout the year, explain the architects. The serendipitous creation of the winter court on the first floor in the north direction enables one to enjoy the weather during summer evenings and winter afternoons. The terrace overlooks the playing field establishes a visual dialogue with the overall context of the campus’s greenery and other buildings.
Typology: Commercial design/ Housing – Hostel
Location: Gurugram, Haryana
Name of Client: St. Andrews Group
Principal Architect: Zero Energy Design Lab
Site Area (sqft & sq m): 60,700 sq. m
Built-Up Area (sqft&sq m): 60,000 Sq. Ft.
Start Date: Dec 2015
Completion Date: 2017
Photographer: Andre J. Fanthome