TEMPLE IN STONE AND LIGHT
Raj West Power Limited
Archdaily | Architizer | Rethinking the Future | Domus
JK AYA 2018 | All India Stone Architecture Award 2016 | Architizer A+ Awards
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Giving contemporary expression to the traditional Indian temple, the materiality of the Shiv Temple in Barmer, Rajasthan is inspired by the beauty of local stone and rich heritage of stone construction. The design with its strong form, stark quality and dramatic play of light on warm stone seeks to evoke visual and tactile senses in a visitor. Radically new way of using stone structure is intended to achieve beauty not through ornamentation but through usage of stone in its pure form. Structured symbolism of traditional architecture is filtered to evolve a form that represents the contemporary times, which still can achieve a space that can evoke spiritual energy by referring to the roots of symbolic nature of a Shiva temple. The main innovation is in the shikhar of the temple which is supported by a solid dressed stone masonry. Rather than a solid block, the individual components of the shikhar of the temple are offset from each other using interlocking stone blocks with epoxy binder, raining light into the inner sanctum / garbhagriha of the temple. The interlocking stone joinery is employed to let light into the structure during the day and let light out during the night, transforming the temple from day to night, solidly opaque to delicately see through.
It was exciting and daunting to design a temple, to be following the footsteps of master builders and craftsmen who, throughout India’s long history, have created masterpieces of temple architecture. The temple at Barmer, relatively free of complex programmatic burdens, offered the appropriate scale for experimentation and pushing boundaries.
The Temple re-interprets the traditional form and evolves a contemporary expression by capturing the essence of a traditional form. While in the first appearance the form of the temple evokes the lines of a traditional Shiv Temple, at closer glance the temple reveals a reimagining of the fractal geometry of the traditional Indian temple structure. The interlocking stone joinery is employed to let light into the structure during the day and let light out during the night.
The traditional Indian temple is strongly associated with stone - a testimony to the material's beauty, strength and timelessness. In the desert landscape of Rajasthan, stone architecture has been taken to great heights combining the massive structural achievements of the fortresses and the intricate beauty of a delicately filigreed jaali. We had excellent quality of stone as well as the depth of skilled traditional craftsmanship and knowledge available which we wanted to utilize, therefore stone was the only material we considered.
We see sustainability as the meeting the triple bottom line of achieving economic, environmental and social goals. In this case the use of local stone and the design itself promoted cost efficiency to achieve maximum impact with local material, promoting local material , industry and livelihoods to craftsmen. The building not only uses natural ventilation, it is also entirely solar passive. The lighting is LED. Importantly, the social goals of promoting local skills and heritage of building, through the use of stone and its innovative design is achieved.
The slabs in the shikhar with their interlocking blocks had to be designed in a manner that structural stability was achieved and symmetry retained for the night time, when the structure was strongly visible. As the stone was used for structural purposes not just decorative, the density of the stone was specified and these were specially sourced to meet the requirements. Marble was used for its finer finish on wall cladding in the landscape and flooring separate from the masonry structure.