Indefinable

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Ergonomic shapes, flood of natural light, lower ambient temperature... every space designed by Prathima Seethur leaves the visitor gasping. By Nandhini Sundar

A space, however small it may be, exudes palpable positive energy when it has ample natural light and ventilation. When the same space is also free flowing and indefinable in structure, the ambience totally transforms, the physical form proving to be a treat to the visual senses while the energy quotient leaves the user in a completely different state, mentally and emotionally; exactly what you experience on walking through the spaces designed by Architect Prathima Seethur of Wright Inspires.

Riding on the non-negotiable sustainable plank, almost all of Seethur’s structures tend to be look at designing interior spaces with skylights and internal courtyards bringing in abundant natural light and ventilation fused with ample greenery. The play of light and shadow makes the functional spaces totally dynamic.

Raw, rustic tones

Raw rustic tones blend harmoniously with earthy textures across all her structures, the internal spaces revealing ergonomic shapes that defy all attempts to define. While the ubiquitous skylights fuse with the strategic vents placed on the walls, the staircase in every project is given a differential treatment, each serving almost like a sculptural component of the space, with no two staircases being identical.

A common feature in all her structures, large windows prevail with ample greenery filtering into the interiors, the omnipresent skylights and vents on the walls ensuring zero requirement for artificial lighting through the day even when the residence is built in a tightly fitted 30x40 site.

“I prefer adopting the unconventional approach where the structure does not conform to expected norms”, says Seethur on her design inclination. “When you witness nature, its dimensions are diverse and intriguing. I try to reflect this in my spaces, in design as well as material use”, she adds.

Naturally cooled interiors

Her penchant for using terracotta filler slab ceiling in her structures brings in another sustainable component in the form of lower ambient temperature, keeping the interiors cool, the abundant natural ventilation through the internal courtyards, large windows and incisions on the walls removing the need for fans except during peak summer. “Even in peak summer the interiors are several notches cooler compared to the exterior temperature”, points out Seethur.

Sweeps, slopes and curves

Besides the ever present terracotta filler slabs, her structures also reveal a strong presence of natural stone and exposed bricks, the natural materials exposed in their raw form along with a sizeable presence of wood to bring in warmth. An interesting factor that meets the eye is the physical form of the walls and ceilings where the wall is not necessarily a straight vertical but can manifest as a slant. Likewise the roof is not built in the conventional horizontal form but features as multiple slopes, sweeps, and curves, the ensuing shape and formturns into a speaking point as one walks through her spaces.

Incorporating setbacks

Given that a large part of her projects feature on tightly fitted sites, Seethur has resorted to clever incorporation of the setback space into the built area in almost all her structures. “The idea is to ensure the setback spaces are also used and serve as an extension of the interiors even when they are left open”, she explains. This clever incorporation automatically turns the structure into an inward looking one, with the internal courtyard becoming the highlight zone.

Granite boulders

The Prakriti Residence serves as a classic example of Seethur’s design inclination and material use. The residence-cum-office building incorporates a large sunlit courtyard replete with massive granite boulders and copious greenery. “The boulders prevailed in the site and hence were retained”, states Seethur. The living area reveals a free flowing space that combines the dining and a central open kitchen which blends seamlessly into the charming internal courtyard, offering a fine blend of interior and exterior spaces.

Curved elegance

Chappadi stone seating around the courtyard prevails in a sparsely furnished space where the accent is on nature and the natural materials used such as Kota stone, granite, exposed bricks and random rubble retaining walls. The office space in the basement shares this energising courtyard which dips down from the ground floor. “The site came with a large rock formation which was retained and designed into an internal courtyard that connects the residence and the office”, explains Seethur.

Her inclination to structure ergonomic staircases finds ample opportunity to manifest in this residence, the ensuing structure, which connects the ground floor with the first level, proving hard to define, serving instead as the accent piece in the minimally decoratedinterior. The ceiling in the multiple rooms is equally dramatic, featuring as curves, sweeps and slopes, connecting to slanted walls while the material palette ranges from clay pot filler slabs to concrete ribbed slabs.

The play of light and shadow, another strong design inclination of Seethur, finds a strong exhibit space in the residence, with terracotta vertical fenestrations on the walls and the glass brick vents on the filler slab ceiling creating dynamic patterns that continuously alter through the day. The residence reveals a total absence of lintels, the doors built from floor to ceiling, nestling between stone and bricks, yet another strong design inclination of Seethur.

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