Architecture that Lives and Breathes
When one thinks ‘architecture’, one tends to picture buildings, parking lots, office complexes and the such; as inanimate as could be, framed in three dimensions. An architectural firm eschews the traditional approach in favour of the experiential aspect in its landscape design projects.
Terra Firma, founded by architect Rohit Marol, focuses on what is commonly referred to as the fourth dimension – time. Par for the course, considering that the firm was started as an experiment to pursue something ‘different’ from conventional architecture. It was founded back in 1985, when a young Marol returned to Bengaluru after earning a Master’s degree in architecture from the School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi. Back then, landscape architecture hadn’t yet come into its own, and the early years of Terra Firma, as a landscape architecture practice, involved intensive learning along with the execution of turnkey projects. All the while, Marol continued to explore his passion for this kind of design and evolved through what he considers a journey of self-discovery.
This passion for experiential design is integral to any project this firm takes on. Says Marol, “We are committed to delivering a unique solution to every project that evolves from a strong understanding of the site and context. Sustainability is an underlying principle that drives our design interventions.”
A booming city powered by a young and upwardly mobile populace needs homes, and a large proportion of Terra Firma’s work caters to the housing sector. “Over the years we have consciously endeavored to design landscapes that can play a positive role in transforming open spaces into vibrant community spaces that bring in a sense of nature and green and provide outdoor environments that heal, relax and rejuvenate. Combining aesthetics and sustainability, welcoming entry portals with arrival plazas, step out decks, pool areas enhanced with feature walls, trellises and garden pavilions, planting palettes that complement hardscapes and express seasonal rhythms, our landscapes go beyond complementing architecture to build healthy apartment communities that offer more than just ‘amenities”, says Marol.
Terra Firma incorporates a lot of natural elements like plants, into its designs. As landscape architects, the firm’s team seeks to capture seasonal rhythms and create settings that evolve over time. The parks that the company has worked on stand as an excellent example of its dedication to this ideal.
Popular among urban dwellers today, JP Park in Bengaluru was one of Terra Firma’s early projects where it was able to put this concept into practice. Situated on a dying lake bed, the key intervention through landscape design was to rejuvenate part of the lake and to provide a large lung space for the city. Today, the park provides much-needed relief from the urban milieu and adds to the city’s green cover.
Hospitality is another sector that Terra Firma has contributed immensely to, through its innovative solutions that accentuate the intrinsic values of the site while enhancing the end-user’s experience. Marol says that quite often, it is the site’s unique natural setting that provides the inspiration for landscape design. However, in urban settings where the site itself does not present such inspirational opportunities, hospitality projects have proven challenging, as space constraints limit what the firm could do, otherwise. In such cases, the the Terra Firma team comes up with innovations in lighting, artistic expression and material usage; key strategies to accentuate the architectural setting.
Many of the firm’s projects have received awards and recognition, inspiring its team to raise the bar of excellence even higher, and approach every new project with renewed enthusiasm. Some of its awards include:
- Brigade World Trade Centre, Bengaluru – CREDAI Real Estate Award for Best Office Building in Bengaluru, 2013.
- Brigade Meadows, Bengaluru – ‘Budget Apartment Project of the Year, Tier 1’ category at the NDTV Property Awards 2014.
- Brigade Exotica, Bengaluru – Luxury Apartment Project of the Year at the NDTV Property Awards 2016.
- Brigade at No.7, Hyderabad – Best Residential Project in Hyderabad in the Ultra Luxury Segment at the 11th CNBC Awaaz Real Estate Awards 2017.
What’s unique about the firm is that while its design ideology has remained unchanged over time, it has not shied away from experimenting with new materials and expressions, reinventing urban landscapes to meet contemporary needs.