Thursday, October 4, 2012

Searching for the contemporary in Rajasthan !

Photo in center: Entrance to the courtyard at Raas Hotel in Jodhpur framing the Mehrangad Fort 
This year happens to be the longest time I have spent in India in the last 10 years. So for our year-end travels, we decided to stay within the Indian Subcontinent. When we travel, we like to linger at a few locations, trying to get to know the place, uncover its many layers, pretend to be local and do things the way locals do.... we find this to be more invigorating and revealing than trying to just check boxes of places visited...

In any case, coming back to the reason for this post, after sorting through a list that included Sri Lanka, Burma and Lakshwadeep, we have decided to travel through Rajasthan at the end of the year. The plan is to start from Jaipur (only place with a direct flight from Goa), then travel to Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Now, since I enjoy being in control (read 'freak'..), I am well on my way with the research and planning for the trip. Apart from the forts, palaces, markets, and museums, I am also very keen to discover the newer contemporary luxury hotel architecture that has cropped up in Rajasthan in the recent past. One that has caught my eye and my imagination is the magnificent Raas Hotel in Jodhpur. Seriously, I can't get enough of this one...Other highlights of course are the Devi Ratn hotel in Jaipur and Rasa tents also a Devi resort in Jaipur.

Facade of the new main building wrapped with a sandstone screen
Rass hotel is spread over a relatively small 1.5 acres. It is built into a complex with three heritage buildings that have been carefully restored. But the real beauty of the place is that 3 new buildings have been added to the complex and this has been done with such finesse that if one looks at the photos, it is hard to see where old ends and the new begins. The planning of the new complex is a great example of adaptive reuse. The new buildings are carefully sited and sized such that they become a part of the historic buildings and landscape. See plan and photo below.
Existing Site Plan with three original heritage buildings
New Site Plan for the Raas Hotel with new buildings added to the heritage compound
Photos of the Raas hotel courtyard, where it is difficult to identify the new buildings as they blend perfectly into the historic landscape
In order to blend the old with the new, the designers have used local red sandstone as the dominant exterior material. And that is fine... as the real naunce in design lies in how the designers have managed to use local material, blend it with the old but do all that using a very neat contemporary design language.
Detail of openable screens in sandstone
The building exteriors are wrapped in red sandstone that is used as a contemporary screen. The top of the building that sticks out of the screen in the main block is kept white to keep it from stealing attention but is still not devoid of character due to its understated modern geometry.

Main new building with sandstone screen and modern geometric form 
Inside the screens, they create dramatic patterns with light that changes during the day
Play of light inside the screens
The interiors follow the same wonderfully articulated blend of old and new. I also feel that lighting has been very cleverly designed to highlight the drama in the spaces.

Love this room and the juxtaposition of the old historic with contemporary furniture and lighting
Bathrooms are separated by thick sandstone slabs, bringing historic element to the otherwise modern space
Traditional seating area with contemporary interiors
Nothing looks better than flowing white curtains !! Notice the modern Bertoia chairs in the historic courtyard
Lovely historic courtyard dotted with contemporary furniture and lighting. Also, love the floors..
Designers used mirrors to reflect the surrounding vistas 
Use of mirrors while they distort the landscape adding drama while being whimsical and arty
Here is keeping my fingers crossed so we can get reservations at the Raas !

Designed by Lotus Praxis Initiative. Watch architect Ambrish Arora's presentation on the design for Raas.

Link to Raas Hotel Website.

Raas Hotel won the award for Best Holiday Building at the World Architecture Festival 2011.

Most photos courtesy 


  1. Oh man, you are going to have SO much fun. I am already looking forward to the pictures of your trip.



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