Evoking Traditional Spatial Gestures
Architecture + Design|October - November 2020
Project: Taj Theog Resort & Spa, Himachal Pradesh Architects: Studio Lotus, Delhi

The project architects were invited by late architect Pradeep Sachdeva to bring in a deliberate mountain house warmth and intimacy into the experience of spaces for the client’s first venture in Himachal Pradesh— to revitalise the brand’s hospitality experience as more human, service-oriented and with a strong local connect.

This new luxury getaway is located on the periphery of the town of Theog and is a 90-key hotel spread over a cluster of three, linear buildings sited on a long stretch of a hill top. Situated at an altitude of 2310m, the sleepy town of Theog provides respite to tourists seeking a quieter experience compared to the popular destinations of Shimla and Kufri all located within a 30km drive.

The building looks onto panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, and its architectural expression draws from the vernacular. With the backdrop of this building and the setting, the brief for the public spaces in the hotel was developed to reinterpret the narrative of ‘a home in the mountainside’. The architects worked with a very tight palette of local materials to render a quiet and spartan spatial experience. The warmth, attention to detail and layering of materials responds to the varying scales of the spaces. Contemporised, handcrafted elements from the vernacular lexicon, made in locally-sourced timber and stone, are brought forth to evoke traditional spatial gestures associated with hospitality and home-like warmth.

The arrival lobby, which receives extensive footfall at all hours, seamlessly extends the reception space into a lounge area, which provides a quieter space for patrons to unwind. The double-height volume has been further notionally divided by two floor-to-ceiling screens, creating a visual barrier for the seating pockets in the lounge. The lounge is given a personality of a small living room with a library space— a mix of intimate, sit-down pockets to pull out a book and relax, or grab a quick coffee before heading out with co-travellers on an excursion.

The hotel’s public spaces are spread across three levels of the hotel, the building’s response to the stepped profile of the site. The primary palette comprises extensive use of timber-clad ceilings, slate floors with custom-laying patterns, and painted and plastered surfaces to hold curated art forms. Key gestures in the spaces to create a distinct identity for the zone are expressed using regional reinterpretations, such as a timber and stone backdrop behind the reception with carving patterns, adaptation of rows of turn-wood spindles found suspended on eaves of local roofs, and doorways for the 6.5m tall screens in the lobby.

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