Alok Kothari Architects is a young, Pune based architectural practice founded by Ar. Alok Kothari. Established in 2015, the firm strongly believes in creating spaces which are context driven using simple, innovative and sustainable design ideas. The practice draws inspiration from the traditional architecture of the region and materializes those thoughts with the contemporary needs & functions using an earthy, warm a natural material palette. With sharp focus on research, experimentation and a keen eye for details, it specializes in designing architecture, interior, landscape and urban spaces.
Ar. Alok Kothari received his Bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pune University’s Marathwada Mitra Mandal’s College of Architecture in 2010. While pursuing his bachelor’s, he interned with Ar. Dean D’Cruz, Goa, for a period of six months. Post his Bachelor’s, Alok worked with a firm called Design Edge in Pune, for a period of two years before moving to the UK for higher education. He received his Master’s in Housing & Urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), London in 2013. In May 2015, he formally established his own design practice named – Alok Kothari Architects – in Pune.
koregaon park, pune | 2012 | completed
The client owned a well-furnished penthouse in Pune for many years but its terrace was not in a good shape.
Mainly, because he had to shuffle between the United States and India, owing to his job and hence did not have enough time to utilize it effectively.
However, over the period things evolved, thereby giving him the liberty to think about putting the terrace to good use.
Highlight of the brief given by the client was to keep the design simple and easy - to - maintain. A 4’ tall metallic statue of Lord Buddha belonging to him had to be the focal point of the entire space and numerous water supply pipes running over the parapet walls were to be hidden without hampering their functionality.
The profile of the terrace along with the expectations/ guidelines put forth by Mr. Parekh was instrumental in materializing the core design theme. The central wall virtually dividing the terrace into two parts would host the Buddha statue and the two halves on either sides of it would be treated as a wet area and a dry area. In other words, the trajectory of the Buddha wall would act as a threshold anchoring one half to the other.
On the whole, the design tries to create a simple but dynamic space using straight and minimum number of lines. The colour scheme is modest and the number of colours is kept to the minimum; fluorescence of the upholstery and the display shelf enrich the entire experience.
sahakarnagar, pune | 2022 | completed
The client along with his wife decided to relocate to Pune post his retirement from a government job at the coal mines at Ranchi. His wish was to use the 40-year-old house (G+1 storey) built by his father as his retirement home. However, the house being unused for a long period of time had to be renovated. The client wanted to refurbish the ground floor and completely rework the building elevation without disturbing the functionality of the spaces on the 1st floor. The idea was to keep the ground floor for the client’s daily use and the 1st floor - which had 2 bedrooms and other ancillary spaces - would be meant for their children or guests whenever they would visit them. The existing external staircase on the south-side had to be retained. Working around this brief, the composition of the ground floor was modified without disturbing the structural framework. Connection of the interiors with the outdoor landscape (planned in the existing margins of the site) is the core of the design. The intent was to use landscape as a tool to overcome the limitations of existing structure and establish a strong connect with nature. The living room & the bedroom have been opened up at strategic locations to achieve this. The feature walls in front of these openings act like anchor points for the entire landscape design. Additionally, they also double up as visual barriers and provide privacy to the user. The USP of this project is the elevation design; which was an exercise of putting a new envelope around the old house without disturbing the functionality of the 1st floor. The challenge was to hide all the haphazard projections and offsets of the existing structure and give it a uniform look. The idea of having a perforated box made up of aluminum fins around the top floor originated from here. The ground floor is wrapped up in a brick skin which imparts a warm look to the house. In order to break the monotony, black stone slats have been introduced at regular intervals, which give the brick facade a horizontal linearity that complements the vertical linearity of the aluminum fins at the top level. The modified elevation is a deliberate juxtaposition of different materials at different levels. The ground floor is treated with earthy & natural materials viz. brick & stone, to keep the structure grounded in the site; whereas the first floor is conceived as a porous box made up of aluminum & steel which not just aids in concealing the old facade but also makes it light in weight. The entire landscape design has been planned in different shades of grey so as to accentuate the building facade. The outdoor flooring design – a combination of light grey and dark grey stone slabs - has been planned in 2 parts. The flooring in front of the feature walls has a geometric pattern comprising of diamonds & triangles to highlight their importance as ‘pause points’; whereas the rest of the areas have a linear pattern which impart a sense of movement. The central portion of the flooring of all the ‘pause points’ has a floral motif which represents the traditional Indian ‘rangoli’ design. The colour palette of the exteriors i.e., brown & grey has been continued in the interiors as well. The entire furniture has a teakwood finish; whereas the walls and ceiling have been painted in light grey & dark grey respectively. The usage of beige colour terrazzo flooring provides an appropriate background for the furniture pieces, paintings, etc. Just like the outdoor landscape, usage of diamond shape is an important feature of the interior design. It is evident in the design of the dining area, ceiling of the living room and the main door.
recife, brazil | 2014 | competition
competition: urban revitalisation of Mass Housing, Competition by UN-Habitat | 2014
team: Mushit Fidelman, Neris Parlak, Alok Kothari
recognition: 1st prize at the national level in Brazil.
The question of housing is interwoven with the issues of urbanism; as housing pattern is influenced by social, economic and political conditions of a region.
Provision of housing is considered a part of government’s duties, as it is the regulator of housing stock.
But for many years, along with the provision, the governments also took over themselves the production of housing.
This tendency resulted in the design of large scale housing programmes often meant for the economically weak section of the society.
As these projects were primarily meant to provide welfare devoid of profits, their location was pushed to the periphery of cities owing to the high land prices and rates of construction in the city centre.
The Minha Casa Minha Vida (MCMV) programme, initiated by the national government of Brazil, is an apt example of this kind. Most of the projects implemented in its initial phases stand as isolated residential quarters as they lack the urbanity needed for a neighbourhood to flourish.
However, pertaining to the social and economic challenges that exist today, housing programmes, such as MCMV should do more. As the dominant factor that defines the urban fabric, housing has an important role to play in shaping everyday life and thus, should go beyond just satisfying the numbers. Hence, the needs of hour is to reconsider the conventional way of implementing MCMV programme and strategically use the tool of housing to create integrated urban development that combines private and public sectors, in order to address the social, political and economical shifts experienced in Brazil.
lower lea valley, london | 2013 | research
team: Diego, Zoreh, Lucia, Chao, Sankalp, Berk, Maneul, Priya, Ming, Alok
The transformation of Lower Lea Valley offers immense infrastructure that holds potential for spatial rethinking, in gaining a more fruitful role in the city.
By knitting East London’s industries back into the urban environment, the resulting mutual benefits could enable proactive relationships.
Although the complexities of mobility infrastructure present difficulty in envisioning these benefits, an understanding of infrastructure as urbanism could help shift an embellished landscape to be a production-oriented fabric.
Through leveraging mobility infrastructure as a mechanism embodying architectural and organizational qualities, industries could have a chance to forge new urban bonds.
The proposed strategy consists of precise moves that intensify the productivity of the area. By concentrating the sprawled industrial activities, their close vicinity enables the capability to cross-reference. The build-up of industrial services redefining infrastructure, could aid in controlling negative conditions. In addition, a layered transport and movement system would help optimize industry as well as foster the creation of new platforms for exchange.
Elements of mobility infrastructure, such as the concentrated railways points and linking motorways lines, provide the spatial opportunity to establish a multi-scalar interface. Ultimately, this interface would work towards the urban inclusion of the Lower Lea Valley as a more dynamic area, which challenges the conditions for production that it harbours.
kothrud, pune | 2019 | completed
mukundnagar, pune | 2022 | completed
The client – a family of 4 people – were planning to relocate from a busy & a congested locality to a spacious 2600 sq.ft. (built-up area) 3BHK apartment in an upmarket & quiet residential neighborhood of Pune. The brief received from the client was to have a house that would be simple but elegant & timeless. This was to be achieved without demolishing any major existing walls and by continuing with the marble flooring provided by the developer. The standardized apartments stacked on top of the other by developers, provide a rigid template to work with. The central idea that initiated the design process, was to somehow break the monotony that any multi-tenement project would offer. Thus, it was decided to introduce curves & rounds in the design which not only helped in softening the rigidity but also aided in adding a bit of playfulness in the spaces. The user is welcomed at the entrance door by a wooden paneling adorned with a pattern created out of the repetitive usage of the ‘capsule’ shape, which is further reflected in the flooring of the entrance lobby. This language of curves is continued in the living room in the form of a vaulted roof and fluted wooden paneling on the TV unit. The linear hanging lights further add to the beauty of the space. The area between the kitchen and the dining was freed up to create a ‘pause point’ in the design by reducing the extent of the existing kitchen. The idea behind this was to ‘un-congest’ the space provided by the developer and introduce an interruption - along the passage leading to the bedrooms – for the user to absorb & experience the space. To highlight this space, the ceiling has a circular depression treated in teakwood and is complemented by the geometric pattern (which evolves out of the ‘capsule’ shape) inlayed in the flooring. This space is further accentuated with a pendant lamp made of ‘rattan’. The shape of the look-out window between the kitchen & the utility is in the form of a ‘capsule’ shape, which is line with the design language. In order to create an element of surprise, liberty has been taken to modify the shape of one of the 2 openings in the master and the daughter’s bedroom. The window of the master bedroom was divided into 3 parts using the ‘capsule’ shape; whereas the daughter’s room window was transformed into a circle from a standard rectangle. These windows not just helped in changing the dynamic of the spaces but also doubled up as the backdrop for the beds. This can easily be experienced in the daughter’s bedroom where the four-poster bed is anchored to the circular window. The material palette used for furniture design all across the house is deliberately kept the same – which is teakwood. The timeless appeal of wood and the warmth provided by it is unmatched. In order to create a contrast in the wooden furniture, a dash of colour has been added on the wardrobes & bed-backs of all the bedrooms. Master bedroom is represented by pastel green; pink is for the daughter’s room and blue for the son’s bedroom. The handles of the wardrobes also evolve from and follow the geometry of curves. The walls in the entire house have been finished in white colour thereby creating a perfect backdrop for the furniture pieces, artefacts and paintings.
bibwewadi, pune | 2019 | completed
Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood, this 3,600 sq.ft. site hosted a 25-year-old single storey house. Unfortunately, we decided to bring down this structure as it was in a dilapidated state, its interiors were gloomy & also, it wasn’t a vaastushastra (traditional Hindu science of architecture) compliant house – which was the client’s main requirement. Study of the site surroundings & the existing structure showed that the main reasons for the existing house being dull & dark were the parking+3 storey bungalow on the east side of the site that was cutting off the morning sun & small opening sizes which didn’t allow enough light to penetrate into the house. In order to cater to this issue, we decided to anchor all the spaces in the new design to a central ‘sky light’ which would not only draw in light during the entire day but also act as a ‘brahmasthan’ (an important aspect related to vaastushastra) of the house. Also, having large windows to all the rooms was the logical way forward. Along with the norms of vaastushastra, the larger planning principle used was to divide the house into 2 functional zones – one for the private spaces & the other for the public spaces – along the north-south axis. The client’s demand of having all the daily necessity spaces – living, dining, kitchen, pooja room (area dedicated to worship to God), 2 bedrooms & toilets - on the ground floor was also catered to. The living & the kitchen were placed on either side of the central ‘sky light’, below which the magnet of the entire house was placed – the dining area. The positioning of an L-type, folded plate, ferrocrete staircase around the dining added a play to this central core. The living extends onto the outdoor seating area which hosts a traditional Indian swing that the client had bought from Rajasthan. The kitchen is connected to the utility space at the rear side (south side) of the house. Continuing the same grid, the first floor is composed of 2 bedrooms, toilets & a multi-purpose room. Carving out a block from the ground floor grid, provision was made for 2 car parks next to the entry porch. The client wanted a house that was simple but still makes a statement. We took this up as a challenge & started exploring different ways of architectural expression. Our research took us to the traditional residential typology of Pune – the wada – which was always as simple & elegant and was mostly constructed in exposed brick or basalt stone or both. We decided to use brick as it is a reasonable material from environment as well as cost perspective. Moreover, the warmth & the aesthetics provided by brick as a material is unmatched. Massing of the structure has been kept very subtle & focus has been put on highlighting the materiality of brick. To complement the red colour of the bricks, exposed concrete box windows & weather shades have been introduced. Also, the square grid of rough cement finish plaster on the compound wall accentuates the presence of bricks. In order to break the monotony of the brick façade & also to provide privacy, ‘jaali’ (perforated wall in brick) work has been used. While the material palette (brick & concrete) for the exteriors of the building is carefully chosen to give it a simple, natural & a playful look; the interiors also follow a similar approach. The material palette comprising of teakwood finish & light colours helps in providing a neat, clean & a spacious ambience. The main USP of the interior design is the use of ‘patterns’ in defining different spaces. The seed of this once again lies in our study of the traditional Indian architecture where the use of such patterns is evident in floorings, wall carvings, ceilings, etc. According to vaastushastra the use of such shapes & patterns boosts the energy flow & generates positive vibrations. These positive vibrations are what transform a house into ‘a home’ – an abode. We call this house THE BRICK ABODE