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Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry


Sangath - an architects studio, Ahmedabad
Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry

Sangath - an architect's studio, Ahmedabad
A bi oclimatic response to a hot, arid cli mate

General description
The rel ati ve organi zati on of form el ements, l ayeri ng of spaces,
control l ed i nteri ors and transi ti ons to the outsi de, the i nterrupti on of
the skyl i ne through varyi ng outl i nes that break the sun i nto shadow,
and open the roof i nto the ni ght sky, are themes that respond wel l to
the hot and ari d cl i mates.
At Sangath, the archi tects desi gn studi o, these responses are at thei r
best. The archi tectural studi o compri si ng recepti on areas, a desi gn
studi o, offi ce spaces, workshop, l i brary, conference room, and other
anci l l ary spaces has been desi gned to natural l y manage the forces of
nature. There are spati al , constructi onal , and l andscape responses to
combat the vagari es of nature i n the hot dry cl i mate. In Ahmedabad,
the summer temperature reaches 45 C and the heat i s very i ntense. It
i s the heat rather than the breeze that becomes cri ti cal . Natural
comfort condi ti ons can be achi eved by protecti ng spaces from the heat
and gl are of the sun.
Design features
Envelope design
Subterranean spaces
The bui l di ng i s l argel y buri ed under the ground to use earth
masses for natural i nsul ati on.
Storage walls
External wall s of the buil di ng are nearl y a metre deep but have
been hol l owed out as al coves to provi de storage that becomes an
i nsul ati ve wal l wi th effi ci ency of space (for storage functi ons).
Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry


Sangath - an architects studio, Ahmedabad
Vaulted roof form
The roof form creates an efficient surface/volume ratio optimizing material
quantities. The higher space volume thus created provides for hot air
pockets due to convective currents that keep lower volumes relatively
The ventilating window at upper volume rel eases the accumul ated hot
ai r through pressure di fferences.

Passive solar design
Indirect/diffused light
Sun light brings heat and haze with it. To maximize daylight (intensity of
illumination) and to diffuse heat and glare, the light is received in indirect manner
by diffusing it. There are three ways by which natural light is drawn within.
By upper-l evel l arge openi ngs towards north di recti on, whi ch i s
cool , and consi stent l i ght i s refl ected off the cl ouds
Skyl i ghts, whi ch are projected masses from the roof, refl ect the
li ght on the whi te i nner wal l surface, whi ch further radi ates li ght
i nto the room
Innermost spaces are l i t up through smal l cutouts i n the roof
sl ab, whi ch are then fi l l ed wi th holl ow gl ass bl ocks that take
away the gl are and transmi t di ffused l i ght
Microclimate through vegetation
Lawns and vegetative cover all around create a favourable microclimate by
absorbing solar radiation and providing a cooler passage of air through
Water channels
Rai nwater and overfl ow of pumped water from the roof tank are
harnessed through roof channel s that run through a seri es of
cascadi ng tanks and water channel s to fi nal l y cul mi nate i n a
Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry


Sangath - an architects studio, Ahmedabad
pond from where i t i s recycl ed back or used for i rri gati ng
vegetati on.
Water cascades al so provi de i nteresti ng vi sual experi ences.
Materials and methods of construction
Exposed natural finishes
The concrete of slabs and wall surfaces are kept bare unplastered as final
visual finishes, which provide a natural look and save on finishing material
Use of secondary waste material
Pavi ng materi al i s a stone chi p waste whil e the roof surface i s
gl azed ti l es waste, both avai l abl e as waste materi al from
factori es at no cost. These have been creati vel y hand-crafted
and i ntegrated i nto the desi gn by ful l y usi ng waste materi al .
The appl i cati on i s al so ski ll -ori ented and i nvol ves as wel l as
promotes craftsmen and our tradi ti onal heri tage.
Sandwiched construction of vault
The vaul ted roof i s of l ocal l y-made cl ay fuses over the concrete
sl ab, whi ch provi des a non-conducti ng l ayer. The top fi ni sh of
Chi na mosai c gl azed ti l es further adds to the i nsul ati on. Bei ng
whi te and gl ossy i t refl ects sun whi l e bei ng made from cl ay i t
retards the heat transmi ssi on.
The above measures have ensured excel l ent cl i mate control i n
terms of keepi ng the i nsi de cool and i ncreasi ng the ti me-l ag for
heat transfer.
There i s a di fference of about 8
C between the i nteri or and
exteri or roof ski n temperatures. The ti me-l ag for heat transfer i s
nearl y si x hours.
The natural el ements are harmoni ousl y bl ended wi th the bui l t
envi ronment, and water recycl i ng and waste materi al reuse have
ensured cost economy as wel l as envi ronmental consci ousness.
Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry


Sangath - an architects studio, Ahmedabad
The exposed surfaces have saved nearl y 10% of the project cost
usual l y spent on fi ni shes.
Water recycl i ng has been most rewardi ng economi cal l y to keep
l awn areas possi bl e.
Natural dayl i ght ensures that mi ni mum el ectri ci ty i s consumed
for arti fi ci al l i ghti ng and al l i nsul ati ve measures have resul ted i n
a 30% to 50% cost reducti on i n energy requi red for cool i ng.

At a glance
Project details
Building/project name Sangath - an architect s studio
Location Ahmedabad
Building type Instituti onal
Architect Balkri shna Doshi
Vastu Shil pa Foundati on for Studi es & Research i n
Environmental desi gn
Sangath Thaltej Road
Ahmedabad - 380 054
Climate Hot and dry
Year of start/completion 1979-1981
Client/owner Balakrishna Trust
Site area 2346 m
Covered area 585 m
Cost of the project Rs 600 000 (1981)

Design features
o Underground constructi on
o Thermal storage walls
o Vaulted roof form to create efficient surface/volume ratio. The
vaul t induces convective air movement thereby cool ing internal
o Vaulted roof of sandwiched construction wi th an insulating l ayer
of locally made cl ay fuses sandwiched between two concrete slabs
o Use of broken China mosaic glazed tiles from local factory as top finish for
the vault to reflect heat
o Daylighti ng by north-glazing, skylights, and roof cutouts
Climatic Zone: Hot and Dry


Sangath - an architects studio, Ahmedabad
o Microclimate modifi ed by vegetation and water bodies
o Rainwater and roof tank overflow water harnessed for recycling
and reuse