Focused on sustainability and flexibility, Studio Lotus’s design for new cultural annexes at the historic precinct seeks to create a new architectural system in tune with the rich context of the site.
With an approach of frugal innovation, flexibility and modularity, Studio Lotus's design for the new Visitor Center at the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort Precinct seeks to create a new architectural system in time with the rich context of the site.
Providing an alternate entrance experience, the Visitor Centre is designed as a highly flexible and adaptable intervention. Proposing a parallel pathway along the main fort entrance walkway, the circulation plan consists of separate entry and exit routes provide distinct experiences at each point and ensure minimal clash of the vast numbers of visitors on any given day. The proposed pathway, providing expansive views of the Mehrangarh Fort, culminates at the Jai Pol Plaza.
Retaining a single sunken structure from the existing Mehran Bazaar, the Visitor Centre platform has been designed to cater to a high visitor footfall. The massing is characterized by a series of modular pods that have been strategically arranged to guide the circulation of various stakeholders across the platform. Designed using a woven steel lattice system, the modules will be fitted with stone slabs in various configurations as per use from vertical insulated walls, to lattices (jaalis) to roof slabs.
The roof of these new interventions is developed to become a seamless landing point by widening the existing stone staircase that emerges on the left of the Jai Pol Plaza — a place where people can gather and gaze at the desert landscape while waiting for others to join. This also seamlessly connects to the Jai Pol Plaza on one end and the exit promenade towards the other. In turn, the Jai Pol Plaza becomes a grove of native Trees at a grid of 6 meters — creating a shaded holding area with movable benches, a paved and shaded parking space for Fort guests on special events, and a larger holding space for festivals.
The proposed intervention also tackles the challenge of reinvigorating the fragmented natural and cultural landscape systems through site-planning, resource management, amd landscape design. Rain water collected along the Jai Pol Plaza will be directed towards the lake near the Visitor Centre through a series of channels; biofiltration of wastewater through phytorid beds and constructed wetlands treatment system.
The lightness and adaptable nature of the stone and steel structures seem to float on the landscape. Quiet yet expressive, strong yet subservient in their humble presence to the permanence and power of the imposing Fort — they express a new way of building that is a highly sustainable and sensitive alternative to the inflexibility of conventional construction of the 20th century.
The design also addresses the challenge of sustainable development within historic built fabrics — by minimizing on-site wet work and optimizing dry construction (with no use of concrete, minimized water consumption, and application of lime mortar for screeding and other purposes).