SITE Specific

November, 2011


Sanjay Puri designs a hotel on the outskirts of Hyderabad with 50 ft high boulders in the centre of the one acre site.

"Every time I crossed Hyderabad and saw these huge boulders, I would wish that I'd get a site where I could do something with these," shares Sanjay Puri, Principal Architect, Sanjay Puri Architects, who believes in designing to not just meet the aesthetic and functional needs of the client but also to suit the needs of the site. So, when he did get the opportunity to design

D Caves, a 27 room boutique hotel located near the Genome Valley in Hyderabad, he took it up on one condition that the 50 ft boulders that sat at the heart of the site would be left untouched.

Originally planned as a club house and then conceptualised as a hotel, D Caves is located on a picturesque, one-acre site that rises up steeply from all sides with a 30 ft level difference from the edges to the centre. Skirted by small roads, the site enjoys open views in all directions, with the sculptural formation of the large boulders traversing it.

Room with a view
To ensure that every space of the hotel enjoys a view of the boulders and the mountains that surrounds the site, spaces are designed as four small units surrounding the boulders. Since the site did not permit a structure of more than two levels, the 27 rooms were created in three linear blocks on one side of the plot along the natural slope of the site.

The service areas and food and beverage spaces, including a restaurant, a bar and a sky deck are grouped together in the north west corner of the site, while the recreation areas form another small building in the east. A conferencing facility has been created in a separate small block. "Because the site is disjointed, it offers the experience and feel of a larger resort where you walk from one building to another through the natural landscape," says Puri.
Up and about
The design of this hotel retains the natural landscape of the site with minimal built forms. The linearity of the built form and the verticality of the boulders create a movement pattern that constantly allows one to feel and interact with the natural surroundings. To reach the reception, you have to climb up about 20 feet. "The staircase faces the north, offering respite from the direct sun and enabling it to double up as a huge plaza space," shares Puri.

Besides creating spaces that enjoy uninterr­upted and interesting views of the natural setting, the built spaces have been orientated towards the north, which allows natural light to seep in through the glass façade throughout the day. The S-shaped architecture of the building that houses the bar on the upper level and the restaurant on the lower level, enabled the architect to focus on different views from the two spaces. 

Creative continuity
The interiors follow the architectural vocab­ulary of the hotel. Thus, the design of the bar speaks a language of continuity, with the wooden fins on the ceiling turning down onto the wall to form the bar display. From there, a metallic mesh like panel forms the bar counter and extends back to the ceiling. The eye doesn't know where to stop, and one is struck by the contrast and flow of design elements.

At the restaurant, an asymmetrical, stepped gypsum board ceiling grabs attention. The continuity has been followed in the design of the reception as well, where a similar finish has been used on the wall, ceiling and the desk. The strips of light here add further drama. "Being the reception area, the space, inspite of being small, needed to make an impact. Thus, we used a textured paint finish on the ceiling, which continues on the wall behind, from where the reception desk emerges. By using one kind of material and one kind of finish, we have attempted to create a flow," explains Puri.

By encapsulating spaces minimally with the context of the site, playing with the existing levels of the site, preserving the natural boulders and opening out spaces to create a design that enables the resident to interact with nature at every step physically and visually  Puri's design does complete justice to the site and its purpose.  

Total area: 45,000 sq ft
Total cost:  `12 crore

Text     : Sumisha Arora
photos: Prashant Bhat

Meet the architect
Sanjay Puri

Firm: Sanjay Puri Architects, founded in 1992.
Firm specialisation: Town planning, architecture and interior design.
Design philosophy: Evolving innovative design solutions that are contextual and sustainable and creating spaces that are exhilarating to experience while being functional.
Philosophy towards life: Time and tide wait for none…Time the tide and ride it.
Favourite architect/Designer: Although there are no favourite architects, there are some works like the cinema hall at Dresden, Germany by Coop Himmelblau, The Ray and Maria Stata Centre building at MIT, Cambridge, US, by Frank O Gehry, the Norddeutsche Landesbank in Hannover, Germany by Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner, that I like.

Sanjay Puri Architects, 20, Famous
Studio Lane, Off Dr E Moses Road,
Mahalaxmi, Mumbai–400 011.
Tel: 022-2496 5840/41.