Inspired by the age-old double skinned structures of the region, (the traditional stone latticed jharokha form of Rajasthani architecture – which perform multiple functions of passive cooling and offering privacy to the user), the new buildings act as lanterns framing the site. The challenge was to make one side of the hand-cut, perforated stone facade open up to uninterrupted views of the Fort. A folding-sliding system in metal and stone was developed and hand-made using entirely indigenous skills.
The drama of the stone jaali (lattice) is heightened by the fact that these panels can be folded away by each guest to reveal uninterrupted views of the fort, or can be closed for privacy and to keep the harsh Jodhpur sun out. We involved the local stone craftsmen as collaborators in this development. After several different explorations over many weeks - a light, contemporary and graphic design was developed for the screens.
These act as a rich tactile backdrop for the restored heritage structures without overpowering them. Each screen panel was hand cut on site from large slabs of Jodhpur sandstone. Traditional stone jaali work is done on 50 mm thick slabs of sandstone. However, the sliding-folding hardware could not support the weight of such heavy panels. Working in collaboration with the local stone craftsmen allowed us to reduce the thickness of the stone slabs to 18 mm. The weight of each panel was 70 kgs and their combined weight was 420 kgs.
The skin on the side of the corridor consists of 50 mm thick, 3.5 m long slabs of stone. These are clamped onto metal girders between each slab forming a screen that shades the corridors and offers privacy. The corridors are east facing and the changing angles of the strong desert sun form a dynamic chiaroscuro on the monochromatic stone wrapped surfaces. At night, these jaalis transform the buildings into lanterns framing the site.