October 19, 2011

Written in Stone

It's been quite a while since my last blog post. Sigh. Apparently I've been busy, but I can't exactly list out many positive results of being busy.

Oh well, aside from working on Transparence, thesis work *cough cough* and Brownie Points, I helped plan out and attended a five day camp for our church youth to the YMCA camp at Nilshi, Lonavala.

It was quite an experience, from seemingly endless train journeys, tents, campfires, mosquitoes and rock climbing, to singing, prayer, kayaking, snakes, swimming, and lots of fun and craziness in general. To top it off, the location was absolutely spectacular. The site was a peninsula into the Andhra Lake, which is definitely the cleanest, clearest, most beautiful lake I've seen in India, which had the backdrop of lush green rolling hills. Very picturesque surroundings with not even a trace of human civilization aside from the campsite. You know those pictures where you can't tell the difference between actual landscape and the refection in the water- this was one of those locations.

The point of this post is to actually try and describe to you the architecture of the place. 
Nestled in the midst of this natural abode, any man-made built form would seem a disruption. But in my opinion, Christopher Charles Benninger brought out a living space to co-habitate with the trees and the mountains, and I'm not talking about tree houses and dens made of sticks, leaves and mud. Unlike the usual rustic campsite, this was one of architectural significance.

Over the 3 days at the campsite, I'd keep discovering little bits of the design. It wasn't something that spoke to you loud and clear at one glance.You sort of had to become part of it. For example, I got lost during the first round treasure hunt and it wasn't easy to find my way by just looking ahead of me. The pathways and buildings were so well camouflaged that I needed to walk bit by bit through the foliage with sudden glimpses of the lake along contoured pathways to really figure out the route. 

So, in order to fully absorb every bit of it, I skipped group pictures on the last day and went on my own architectural walk. Let me take you through it. Enough of the long written explanations. The pictures should do the talking.

1. Main hall
Hexagonal hall with surrounding spill-out and toilets. Combination of stone, glass and a lot of light blurred the boundaries of built and non-built.


2. Cabins
Tucked away down narrow alleyways and buried underground, the cabins were still bathed with shafts of light and were not deprived of a view and still had privacy despite floor-to-ceiling glass. 

3. Dining Hall
This landmark on the site takes the overall design from ground level skywards. The tensile dome filters light into the interiors while sloping landscapes drag the form out connecting sky and earth.

4. Pathways
Meandering crisscrossing pathways through the trees and along the slopes. Sharp angles and corners contrast the contours.


5. Random Pictures

All in all, it was architecture which I felt a part of, which was the perfect amalgamation of the built vs. the natural. Read more about the project here.

Striving towards this connect in architecture will result in bridging the gap between the built environment and the natural environment.
Frank Lloyd Wright would agree;
"I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain." 


Sindhu Kasi said...

Awesome pictures and awesome blog post!!!

Tanisha Christo said...

Thanks Sindhu- I don't think I did justice to the place though.