Documenting the Passage of Time

Project: Atali Ganga, Rishikesh

Architects: RLDA Design Studio, New Delhi

Atali Ganga is an adventure sports resort located on the banks of the river Ganga, about 30 kilometres away from Rishikesh. The resort consists of a storage facility and dormitory, a veranda with a tensile roof that frames the surrounding mountains, a cafe and 22 cottages for guests. Distinguished by its use of stone, reed and steel wire, the project abandons a commonplace aesthetic and other such iconographic elements to stand out as a building that draws its aesthetics from the means, methods and modes of its construction.

The first building—made of stone, encased in galvanized gabion boxes and tied to each other with steel wire—was constructed predominantly out of material that was either found on site or excavated from it.

In the second structure, a tensile roof crowns the conference room above a verandah, adding a whimsical twist to the otherwise stark geometry of the stone building and recalling the numerous tents that dot the river banks.

Connecting these two structures is a two- level reed trellis with an elliptical staircase puncturing it. The stairs supported by a pair of stringer beams terminates in a small deck that faces the river and hills beyond. The absence of a central structural member gives the stairs a sense of lightness, contrasting sharply with both the texture and the weightiness of the adjoining buildings gabions.

The cottages that dot the upper levels are characterized by their spartan luxuriousness. Entered through a private verandah, a central stone wall demarcates the tripartite bathroom from the bedroom. Extensively glazed, the cottages open themselves up to the surrounding landscape. Their location on the hill was determined by topography, views and distance from other such units. The metal structure of the cottages was prefabricated off site.

The project as a whole documents the passage of time, through the use of stone, shadow and steel, and in doing so situates itself within the social and religious continuum of the historic river Ganges.

FACTFILE

Client: Aquaterra Adventures

Design team: Rahoul B. Singh and Lakshmi Chand Singh

Consultants: Structural – Ajay Aggarwal Consulting Engineers

Contractors: Structural and Civil – Kotnala and Company

Built-up area: 23,000 sq ft

Year of completion: 2012