Excerpt: ‘The Helix: A Viewing Deck at Lakhpat’ is an academic project by Swar Solanki from Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, as part of his undergraduate course in architecture. A viewing deck, located near the fort wall of Lakhpat, Kutch, was designed by taking inspiration from the Basilisk Lizard.
Introduction: ‘The Helix: A Viewing Deck at Lakhpat’ is an academic project by Swar Solanki from Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, as part of his undergraduate course in architecture. A viewing deck, located near the fort wall of Lakhpat, Kutch, was designed by taking inspiration from the Basilisk Lizard. The design development included various stages, starting with the careful observation of the selected topic – Basilisk Lizard. After going through a series of abstract diagrams (2D and 3D), the architectural form for the viewing deck was arrived at for the proposed site at Lakhpat. As a final step, the structural system, materials and junctions were resolved with the help of digital and physical model-making tools. The final form for the viewing deck was proposed in the form of a helix with a base of 1.5 M, and the top deck being 10 M.
Lakhpat is a fortified town in Kutch, Gujarat, India, with a unique topography of sea on one side of the fort wall and desert on the other. The town has a serene landscape view from the top of the Fortified Bund Wall, frequently visited by tourists. The town is also dotted with rich historical landmarks such as the Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib, and many prominent sufi shrines. Once the hometown of millionaires and a route for international trading from the Arabian Sea side to the Indian Territory, the town has now become a touristing attraction in the Kutch region.
‘Points in the Landscape’ were the design intervention on and along the fort wall of the Lakhpat town to enhance the experience of the visitors and make them arrive at different pause points, in order to interact with the historical landscape of the place. Designs were developed for a new social landmark that could be climbed up and explored by visitors. The focus in this design studio was to create structures that the visitors might be able to use and touch, and were rooted in the principles of ‘architectural tectonics’. For further details about site, program and design process, visit the Academic Studio page of this project, titled as – Abstraction|Tectonics|Form
The design process for the studio was structured around two broad stages: Abstraction, and Tectonics. The process of Abstraction involves observing fundamental features from a selected topic from nature, and representing the same in the form of abstract 2D and 3D diagrams. For this project, basilisk lizard was taken as a topic and thoroughly studied, and its Abstract 2D diagrams were made.
As a next step in the design process, some of the 2D diagrams were interpreted into 3D models to arrive at complex geometries inspired from the basilisk lizard. The task was to interpret the 2D diagrams into 3-dimensional forms (physical models) with the help of different model-making techniques and materials.
The abstraction process generated a range of three-dimensional geometries, each with a distinct possibility for a structural system; hence, a distinct architectural form. These possibilities were tried on the selected stretch of the fort wall to generate a range of possible programmatic interventions, giving these abstract models a scale and a sense of purpose. Of these, one of the iterations, an idea for a watch tower in the form of a helix, was resolved further by applying a structural system, materials and addressing all the structural junctions.
The final outcome of the project was a watchtower, proposed in the form of two swirling steel trusses. These steel trusses were interconnected to act as one structural system and also provided staircases for the people to access various levels of the tower. The tower also proposes an elevator core, which further helps in creating the floor for the cantilevered decks at various levels.
The Pavilion leads to a certain height, final deck, from where the tourists can enjoy the entire landscape of Lakhpat town, fort wall and beyond. A set of drawings, communicating the kit of parts and assembly, were made in the form of exploded axonometric drawings, along with a detailed physical model at 1:20 scale.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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