Saturday, May 28, 2016

Top 10 Bathroom Design Ideas for the modern home, by Sujith.G.S

Traditionally, bathrooms were spaces hidden away from view with only basic necessities and functionality. Today, people are opening up their bathrooms and flaunting the spectacular designs and luxurious accessories, making their own unique style statements. Right from TVs to Jacuzzis and fancy showers – a modern bathroom has it all. With homes becoming more and more opulent and designer, what better way to create exclusiveness than to have a custom designed, trendy bathroom?
Bathrooms have come a long way since the days of the plain ceramic tile and the ubiquitous Indian closet. Today, European closets, bidets, wash basin counters, shower cubicles and the like have become the norm. People are constantly looking at newer trends and styles. 

Dive in and take a look at the Top 10 Bathroom Design Ideas for the modern home – 

Nature is the ultimate luxury – Natural light, greenery and good ventilation is the new mantra for a contemporary bathroom. Adding that little patch of green can go a long way in enlivening the ambience of a bathroom, which in today’s fast paced life is the ideal stress reliever.

The stand alone bathtub – Having a free standing bathtub to relax is the perfect way to pamper oneself. Open up the bedroom and bathroom into a single space by using sliding door to create a seamless ambience. The standalone bathtub would be the cynosure of this space, adding class and sophistication.

Fill it up with quirky accessories – Small things matter in a bathroom. Add that touch of vibrancy to the space by using artistic accessories like bespoke towel rods, uniquely shaped soap dishes, or colourful funky cups for holding toothbrush and other paraphernalia. Go wild with accessories, which could also be curios collected during travels to various places.

Play with materials – Compared to the early days when ceramic tiles were the staple fare, there are a plethora of options today, with an amazing range of designs, patterns, textures and brands to choose from. Rustic natural stones add a lot of class to the bathroom, which can be complemented by newer materials like copper, bronze, chrome, travertine etc.

Use hand-painted tiles – Hand painted tiles for the walls can increase the chic quotient of any space. Athangudi tiles from Chettinadu are perfect for this. Combine these with a neutral material palette like that of polished cement finish, to create a refined and sophisticated space.

Add a dose of Art – Good art shows refined taste. Thoughtfully chosen art will add plenty of character and charm to a bathroom and can guide the tone of the entire space. Make sure that the size of the artwork goes with the scale of the space.

Get a designer mirror – Mirrors are one of the most neglected objects in a bathroom. For creating a stunning space, get a custom designed mirror which will go with the overall ambience and character of the space.

The open air shower – For the bold at heart, create an open air shower in your bathroom. There is nothing as uplifting as having a shower in the open, provided, the design ensures sufficient privacy from prying eyes. 

Go for a monochromatic colour scheme – Accentuate the minimalistic elegance of a space by using a monochromatic colour palette. Remember to add a dash of a bright colour to bring in an element of playfulness.

Paint it Black – There is nothing as mysterious and seductive as a rich black surface. Use black selectively, combining it with various textures to enhance the classiness of a space.
Today, one is spoilt for choice when it comes to creating a stunning bathroom. All that is required is a creative frame of mind and a discerning eye. Follow the above ideas to create a stunning bathroom guaranteed to make one feel like royalty!

SUJITH.G.S is an architect with a passion for travelling, experiencing cultures, studying vernacular architecture as well as contemporary currents, which form the basis for his writing and blogging. You can contact him at ar.sujithgs@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

WHY AVANI 01 MATTERS?

SUJITH.G.S

Avani Institute of Design organized its first Annual exhibition, titled ‘AVANI 01’ from the 13th to the 19th of May at Mandalay Hall in Cochin, showcasing the works done in the first year studio. One of the primary objectives of the exhibition was to open up the activities and vision of the school to the public, thereby attempting to start a conversation on architecture and design. This is in a way necessary, as we, the architects, have managed to insulate ourselves from the general public and in the process, have placed ourselves on an pedestal, removed from the realities of the modern day. This is even more drastic in the scenario of architecture education, as in architectural practice one is forced to engage with the clients, while in architecture schools, this engagement is totally absent. One might argue that projects undertaken in an architecture school has to be hypothetical, pushing the boundaries of reality and imagination. But the drawback of this approach is all too evident in our built environments, with horrendous works which are out of sync with the ground realities.


It is in this context that Avani 01, as an exhibition of student’s works, gains relevance and is a critical step in opening up the domain of education to the public and thereby exposing students to think from a client’s perspective. A true conversation starts when there is an honest give and take between the various stakeholders shaping our built environment, of which the common man is an integral element. By establishing such a culture of interaction, openness and critique, Avani 01 will encourage students to come out of their cocooned academic ambience and think of the larger issues and varying perspectives in the society, helping them develop as sensitive well rounded professionals. This is a critical mandate which has to percolate to all our educational institutions, where even the academic faculties have to start interacting with the practical side of the profession and the realities of our built environment.



The overwhelming positive response received from people from all spectrum is an indication that public at large is curious to engage with our profession, even though they may not truly relate to all the design exercises. The fact that people interacted with the students, trying to understand the concepts behind various installations and exhibits and telling students what they thought of the designs, was a very encouraging response, especially as majority of the visitors were general public, who were not architecturally educated. The critique from the visiting architects too would have given the first year students a lot of inspiration, which would undoubtedly help them in their coming years and help them develop into better designers.
























SUJITH.G.S is an architect and writer, with a passion for travelling, experiencing cultures, studying vernacular architecture as well as contemporary currents, which form the basis for his writing and blogging. You can contact him at ar.sujithgs@gmail.com

Friday, May 20, 2016

Avanti Annual Exhibition - AVANI 01

SUJITH.G.S

The Avani Institute of Design has organised its first year end exhibition, featuring the works done by the students, in Mandalay Hall, Cochin. There are talks and discussions by eminent architects and artists along with the exhibition, creating a series of events which will encourage conversations to happen and try to break the invisible barrier between the practitioners and the general public. That such conversations have to happen even in our academic institutions is one of the primary objectives of AVANI 01





SUJITH.G.S is an architect and writer, with a passion for travelling, experiencing cultures, studying vernacular architecture as well as contemporary currents, which form the basis for his writing and blogging. You can contact him at ar.sujithgs@gmail.com

Monday, May 16, 2016

The craft of writing and its relevance for architects - Sujith.G.S



Architecture is a reflection of the social, cultural and economic fabric of any society, concerning predominantly with the built environment and the allied aspects which influence human progression. From the initial practitioners to the organized profession of architecture, architects have evolved continuously, embracing multiple mediums for communicating their ideas and concepts and ultimately getting these manifested in a tangible reality. Drawings and other means of graphical representation form the core faculty for architects, yet other media are equally significant.

In today’s globalised world, newer technologies, processes and systems are opening up various avenues for exploration, with the architect having to master these varied modes of representation and communication, to stay relevant. In this context, writing forms an integral part of any architect’s skill set, which is unfortunately getting neglected in today’s digital world.

Writing on architecture is relevant to thinking on the state of the practice, to analyze and develop theoretical positions, without which architecture becomes a mere problem solving exercise, failing to elevate and substantiate its larger role in transforming the society. However, there is very little serious writing on architecture in the country, reflecting to a large extent the changing priorities of our globalised world, with its fascination for glitz and glamour. Also, writing is nowadays reduced to mere fanciful descriptions glorifying the aesthetic elements in a project, with the majority of the projects featured being of an opulent nature. These are often deceptively simplistic and are taken by the public as well as the younger generation of architects to be the relevant aspect of any design. This lack of a critical perspective is gradually eroding the qualitative base of the profession, slowly directing the discussions and deliberations away from the core issues and concerns of our built environments.

In such a context, what is the relevance of writing in today’s environment, when there is an overdose of fanciful images? We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially pertinent for architects who predominantly communicate through drawings and images. However, even for a regular feature on a project, the written word is equally relevant. Images alone will not always communicate the intent behind a design, on how a design has evolved, what the unique constraints and challenges were for the particular site and program. For a deeper understanding of a project, one has to move beyond the seductive imagery and understand the myriad layers that make up a project, right from the regional context in which a project is sited, it's response to that context, or lack of it and how the design has been shaped by the specific features of the site, the role of the client in evolving the building program - all these cannot be fathomed from the beautiful photographs of a project alone. These have to be put down in words in a clear and interesting manner, bringing out the underlying narratives which have shaped the design and which will help one understand the logic behind it, leading to a critical evaluation of the project.

Writing as a craft has the power to elevate a design to a different plane, adding a lot more depth and meaning to it. These need not be through long complex monologues, but can ideally be expressed through a few well crafted sentences. Such a narrative will open up the design to a lot of people who may never get the chance to experience the space in person. The experiential side of the spaces, which is not always understood from images alone, can be brought out – the quality of space, of light and shadows, volumetric compositions and massing, silence, the ambient mood, visual axis and frames, edges, relation to landscape and nature...all these, if elucidated through a few well crafted sentences, can transport one to the actual space and design, even if it is physically not possible to visit the project. This will go a long way, especially for students and architects, apart from the general public, who would want to study and analyze the designs in various international contexts, but are not able to go visit each and every space.

In the study of architectural history also, the written word has an important role to play, bringing out the nuances of the structures which were built at various periods in history, establishing their contextual, social and cultural relevance. They are further relevant in documenting our rich architectural traditions. These studies are an important aspect of design pedagogy and practice, opening up the minds to how our built fabrics have evolved over time and contributed in shaping the respective societies. Such a historical perspective is also essential for one to understand the present state of the architectural discourse around us.

In the practice of architecture, the ability to communicate in a clear, concise manner is one which needs to be rigorously cultivated and developed. In today's technologically advanced world, our haptic faculties are slowly getting eroded. We are over dependent on the ever evolving newer forms of communication like texting, whatsapping etc, which has contributed in a gradual decline of our ability to write in a legible, coherent manner.

Yet, it is important that as architects, we have the basic writing skills to compose and draft decent content. As a professional, writing forms an integral means of communication - you have to write letters and emails to clients, vendors, consultants etc, apart from preparing project reports, presentations and publication materials. One regularly comes across poorly written emails on a daily basis from student architects and young architects, who would be looking for an internship position or for a job opening. Even before you take a look at the attached resume and portfolio, the first impression is subconsciously formed based on the quality of the email and the few lines that has been written. It simply shows that one did not place enough importance to take the help of someone well versed in language and writing, and is an indirect reflection of one's lack of professionalism and attention to detail.

Legibility of communication in today's professional world is of paramount importance. The written word, through emails, letters, reports, specifications etc is very important in clarifying and taking forward a project. Right from the initial communications with a client, to sending across your quotation and terms of engagement, to subsequent stages in the design evolution where you have to communicate the intent and concepts behind the design and convince the clients, to the construction stage of a project when you will be interacting with multiple consultants, vendors and contractors; streams of communication, both oral and written are equally decisive. As an architect, one has to master these various forms of communication, each with their own individual rules of engagement.

Writing is also about thinking – it makes you think about the issue at hand and helps in clarifying the thought process. The what, why, how and when is often made clear in ones own mind by a process of writing. Increasingly, research is becoming an integral part of the architectural discourse and practice. All of the mature practices have a constant interest in research and analysis. It can be purely architectural or can be a lot more interdisciplinary, encompassing the worlds of art, culture, urbanism, sociology etc, all of which have significance in the globalised world we live in. The rapid pace of change in today’s world calls for greater conversations and dialogues to understand the present as well as to postulate the future of the profession. These call for a constant introspection into the state of the architecture practice across various forums and media, which will substantiate and evolve a new direction for the architecture practice in the country.

SUJITH.G.S

This is an article that has appeared in 'Unsettld', the Student publication of Avani Institute of Design, published along with the Avani Annual Exhibition.


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SUJITH.G.S is an architect and writer, with a passion for travelling, experiencing cultures, studying vernacular architecture as well as contemporary currents, which form the basis for his writing and blogging. You can contact him at ar.sujithgs@gmail.com