Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Skyon in Gurgaon, India by Sorg Architects
August 6th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Sorg Architects
In the early 1980’s the automotive company Maruti Suzuki catapulted Gurgaon from farming village to growing commercial sector, by locating large scale operations there. Lured by tax reforms and the proximity of Delhi International Airport, private firms and multi-national corporations began flocking to Gurgaon as the Indian markets opened up to global investment. One decade later the largely undeveloped land in Gurgaon appealed to developers as the need for a satellite city in Delhi’s expanding metropolitan area became increasingly apparent. Gurgaon has been nicknamed the ‘Millennium City’ and has seen an unparalleled period development that has significantly outpaced progress on infrastructure and municipal support structures.
How to find inspiration from a place still struggling to define its own urban context was a key challenge for Suman Sorg, tasked with the design of the large-scale multifamily residential project, Skyon. For this commission, Suman found influence in rich cultural and urban landscape of Northern India – from brightly colored textiles to bustling markets to historical landmarks in cities like Jaipur.
Part of a larger township development, Skyon is located at the south-eastern edge of Gurgaon in Sector 60 and connects to a 60-meter wide highway by means of a smaller road to the north of the property. When approached by developer IREO to design a housing development on this parcel, Suman understood that controlled density could provide the opportunity for communities to flourish, breathing life into the commercial and urban explosion of the past two decades. The goal was to design a project that imparted human scale and organization to a cacophonous environment.
Suman’s objective in the initial planning stages of the project was to provide the client with analysis and options for organizing a diverse set of housing typologies and programmatic amenities. The schemes that emerged included the superblock, in which mid-rises and towers are integrated into larger building clusters; the sculpture park, in which scattered towers are encircled by a base of townhouses; and the common green, in which a single tower anchors one end of a public quadrangle bounded by mid-rise buildings.
The focal point of the common green, the scheme ultimately selected for the site, is a 40 story iconic tower with a pinwheel layout composed of four stacked units radiating from a rectangular core. This plan for the tower is derived from the Hindu symbol for good luck. It’s simple geometric design not only proves advantageous during construction but affords each unit unobstructed views in three directions. The building’s ornamental facade remains a tenant of the architecture, as exterior balconies are modulated to create undulating forms akin to paper origami.
Within each unit, bedrooms and living spaces are pushed toward the outer fully-glazed walls. This contrasts with the opposite wall, which is solid and utilizes a pattern of punched windows to light the space. Residential balconies extend along the length of the glazed facade, providing extremely effective shading under both high and low-angle sunlight, thereby reducing the tower’s total energy consumption. At night a subtle wash of light can be seen lighting the inside edge of the Tower’s four concrete walls by means of hidden LED lights.
Centrally located, Skyon’s common green acts as a park for pedestrian circulation and activities. Residential Midrise buildings ranging from nine to thirteen stories tall border three sides of this central green space. Views from these units are directed either inward to the garden oasis or outward to the nearby mountains. Midrise facades incorporate a generous use of balconies which rhythmically shift from floor to floor, echoing the tower form. These facades create a dynamic visual foundation upon which the contrasting forms of the slender Tower and garden pavilion Clubhouse are further enhanced.
The social center of this development, the Clubhouse includes squash courts, swimming pools, fitness rooms, lounges and a restaurant opening into an adjacent garden. In contrast to the tower design, this building was conceived as a low-lying pavilion, partially sunken and belonging more to the landscape than to its neighboring buildings. The double-curved roof and canted glass exterior remain true to this concept, as do the partially sunken squash courts and atrium stair leading to parking below ground.
Throughout the project cultural influences like Vastu, an ancient concept similar to fengshui that affects interior layouts of spaces, or Rasta, a Hindu reference to holy paths, some of which weave through Gurgaon, can be seen in the design and planning of Skyon’s residential buildings. However, more pivotal to the project is its emphasis on community, sustainability and a reclaiming of the pedestrian lifestyle for Gurgaon’s ever-growing number of residents.
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