Increasingly, Indians are now including dogs to complete their families. In the country’s metros, however, where is the space for our pets to play and relax? But that’s changed at least in Bengaluru. We collaborated with Nilendu Maiti and Shekhar Gaonkar promoters of Petcart.com to make Petcart Nest, a one-of –a-kind ‘pet resort’ on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The two-acre plot chosen by the clients lay amidst open fields and mango orchards. The plot is naturally tiered in three levels across 30-feet in total, and the entire land mass is elevated compared to the surrounding area which allows us to see as far as the horizon on the eastern side. At the lowest level of the site was a dried pond about 15-ft deep which we decided to revive. There were two large trees on the second tier of land which we wanted to retain and the estate was designed around them.
This project has no precedent in India, and there was no set brief. Although the clients were looking forward to a grooming center, a chat room to do live videos between dogs and their owners, a pet clinic, lawns for training and play areas, a large pool, an office, kitchens (for humans and animals), and helpers' quarters, in addition to as many comfortably sized kennels as possible.. all in a shoe-string budget! We redesigned the space a multiple number of times, in terms of planning, materials, area allocation and forms and shapes of the buildings to bring the cost of construction and maintenance down.
The design intention was to leverage the natural land contours and have an ecologically responsible approach. Besides reviving the dried pond and retaining all the trees, we consciously employed natural materials to create built forms that would complement and integrate with the surroundings. The buildings were sited such that the natural vistas of the surroundings remain undisturbed which is why the reception building is on the lowest tier of the site and the pet boarding area and the main lawn are placed on the tier 15 feet above it. The color palette was kept neutral and earthy to blend well with the surroundings. The Reception building is made of a framed metal structure with bamboo stalks and metal jaali work on the rear wall which over time will be covered by beautiful creepers which we have planted for that purpose. The east facade of the structure is made by layering bamboo stalks side by side vertically, and completing the composition with an abstract placement of long vertical windows. Bamboo, while being a strong, eco-friendly building material, creates a beautiful permeable mesh which allows the structure to 'breathe' and flushes the interiors with sunlight and ventilation.
Respecting the environment formed an important part of the design process. Animal excreta is collected separately in a bio-gas chamber; mesh building envelopes reduce heat entrapment and thus the need for electrically assisted air-conditioning. And rainwater harvesting pits recharge the water table and also help in keeping the pond on site full. The clients will also be investing in solar voltaic cells in the near future to taper the dependence on the grid and produce electricity locally.
The comfort of the four-legged guests was paramount and the resort was carefully designed to allow this. The structures are naturally lit and ventilated, and roofed with PUF panels to ensure a cool environment. The pet-boarding building has multi-level sloping roofs that help in allowing the hot air to escape easily, and at the same time, ensure uniform brightness through the day. Large windows on all sides reduce dependence on artificial lighting. The kennels are among the biggest available in India, and are built in two sizes to accommodate large and small breeds. Part wall, part bamboo, each unit is airy. The bamboo material remains sturdy yet keeps the pets from getting injured even if they bite into it. The elaborate plumbing system designed in the kennel area allows all the 70 kennels to be washed and kept tidy, since traps have been provided in each of them. The doorways and corridors are more than 6-feet wide to allow humans and dogs to walk alongside. W The pool has been designed in a way that dogs of different sizes can enjoy a swim. Its depth increases gradually from one foot to four, through a series of four-foot-wide one-foot-high steps. The water outlets in the pool have been made in such a way that there are multiple traps for fur so that it doesn't find its way back into the water circulation system and clog the filtration units.
The responsibility of creating a lush, natural setting for the animals fell largely upon landscaping. We hired the services of the Pinewood Studio, a landscape design firm in Hyderabad. They assisted us in designing a beautiful and lush green environment which is one of the main reasons for pet owners to bring their pets to the resort. The outdoors include a variety of play areas such as lawns, stepping stones, mounds and sandpits for expending animal exuberance, with multiple items of textural variety like tyres, poles and tunnels to make things exciting for the pets.