Designed for Serendipity

Designed for Serendipity

Harsh Patel and Bhavana Hameed
Harsh Patel and Bhavana Hameed

Natural elements set strong contextual design vocabulary to an architect’s skills. Working around strong geographic lines is as challenging and intimidating as in a virgin land. Playgroup Studio deliberately articulated their interventions of Coffee Pavilion amidst Coorg’s natural settings to one’s contemplation and bewilderment. A play of space and volume, materials and techniques, planes and angles, grapples a strong communication skill between nature and mankind.

Text & Photograph: courtesy, the architect
Coffee being native and important to Coorg District, coffee pavilion was developed as the most sacred space in the entire 100 acre resort property. The creation of the site was as crucial to the project as the design of the structure itself. Tucked in the valley between three hills, the location for the Coffee shop was chosen for it had the calm and serenity of a Zen space. This Coffee shop was intended to become a meditative/contemplative space for the residents while tasting handpicked coffees from Coorg and across the world.

A large pond was created around a hard platform that existed on site, built as a concrete block making unit by the previous owners. Over three monsoons, the water enveloped this platform on all four sides making it an island in the valley.

The building uses this platform as its plinth and only a flying roof is added to emphasize dramatic views from this location. The approach to the building is deliberately taken all the way around the water body to arrive through the side of the building. As one walks to the building, one is offered glimpses of the lake and the pavilion through the tall vegetation surrounding the pond. This builds anticipation in one until arrived inside the coffee pavilion and is gifted with the panoramic view of the mountains, valley and the still water in front.

The exterior deck with its original curing tanks is reused as coffee drying yards, and the hard landscape around is interspersed with coffee plants. The entry into this deck is through a heavy wooden door that stands in the center of a thin glass wall adding to the drama of stepping outside into the pond deck. This door is a symbolic feature that frames the entry from one space to another and makes it more pronounced as a feature, because of its sheer location, in the middle of the glass connecting the interior to the outside, visually.

The design of the pavilion itself is reduced to the bare minimum, in its simplest form, without taking anything away from the landscape. The sweep of the roof accentuates the mountains behind and the vista ahead. The beams supporting the flying roof are inverted above the slabs to get an undisturbed face of the slab from within. The roof is cantilevered upto 6 meters in the front by two thin linear columns in the front and 2 at the back. The glass wall was designed without any frames to have an uninterrupted view of the valley as soon as one enters the coffee shop. The furniture is designed to the bare minimum and the flooring and finishes are of natural materials from the region.

Fact File
project: Coffee Paviliion
location: IBNI, Coorg
architect: Bhavana Hameed
design team: Abdul Hameed, Anjana, Anajana Bhagyanath, Bhavana Hameed, Harsh Patel
client: Capt. Sebastian
civil contractors: KAP Construction, Mangalore
carpentry contractors: Arunjith, Calicut
structural engineer: Basil Thomas, Abdul Hameed Consultants, Calicut
site engineer: Prasanna, Madikeri
site area of the resort: 2 acres
built-up area of Coffee Pavillion: 1,850 sq ft
project estimate: Rs. 1,200/sq ft
project commencement: 2011– landscape development2013– building construction
project completion July to August 2014


About the Architect

Having acquired immense knowledge and work experience from different parts of the world, Harsh Patel and Bhavana Hameed, alumini of CEPT University, Ahmedabad, set-up Playgroup Studio in 2009 at Sangolda village, Goa. Currently, Harsh is pursuing his M.Arch in Digital Design from Pennslyvania State University, USA with a work experience at Fake Design, Beijing, China. While Bhavana excelled for an international exchange programme in ETC, Zurich during her tenure in B.Arch. She has worked at ECG, Dubai, UAE; ECG, Cairo, Egypt; HHF Architects, Basel, Switzerland and Fake Design, Beijing, China.

The primary concern of the studio has been to develop an architectural language through an in-depth understanding of the determining factors, where the specific constructed form/space becomes, but an instance, of that type. It tries to arrive at a critical balance between the self-imposed rules and the freedom/variations afforded to generate a play within the structure. The practice refrains from providing technologically advanced solutions but rather strives to achieve innovative economical approaches through the use of simple existing prevalent techniques of construction. We believe this to be more relevant to the Indian context having a much larger factor of adaptability within the society. Along with the architectural object, several other factors which contribute to the making and understanding of space like graphics, furniture, signage, etc are also addressed through collaborations with various other firms/individuals to arrive at a holistic expression.