This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Choice Award in the Architecture + Weather category. See the full list of winners here.
When submitting a design for an administrative office at the factory site of a cement plant in Rajasthan, India's largest province, Sanjay Puri Architects were feeling the heat—heat in excess of 110°F (45°C), that is. Since Rajasthan features the Thar Desert, where temperatures during the summer months make the locale nearly inhospitable, the architects had to consider the climate and weather patterns for the proposed office's design. To mitigate the effects of an extremely harsh climate, the architects turned to the traditional Indian design of incorporating open-air courtyards to create cooler internal spaces, and came up with a concept called BIOME.
The use of internal courtyards follows a long history of desert dwellings in Rajasthan. According to Sanjay Puri, traditional homes in the region were typically rectilinear, with all rooms facing a large internal courtyard that shielded interior space from direct sunlight. However, Puri's design takes this concept one step further: The courtyard on the ground level is augmented by smaller external courtyards created by earth berms, which ensure that each part of the building cools itself naturally, and is lit indirectly. The relationship between open and enclosed spaces allows for changing experiences within the building, and is crucial to the concept, which Puri cites as a favorite component of the design. Wind chimneys punctuate the entire grass covered structure to expel hot air from all the naturally ventilated circulation spaces, while a southwest orientation, the same direction of region's wind pattern, facilitates natural air movement.
Sanjay Puri's design not only looks to vernacular desert architecture for environmental control, but also takes inspiration from the surrounding typography, echoing the shapes of nearby sand dunes in an angular, organic way. This dialogue between climate and architecture creates a striking contemporary design, which from afar could appear as a green oasis within an expanse of sand. We hope to someday see this realized!