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Balancing the vertical spread

NANDHINI SUNDAR
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Architects play with materials, colours, even the composition of the structure and treat each space as an individual block instead of a continuous frame in elevation. A look by NANDHINI SUNDAR

A multi-storeyed building, especially in a small site, displays a vertical expanse in its elevation which can totally ruin the aesthetics of the structure. While the size of the site or the size of the required interior spaces may make the reduction of this vertical expanse impossible, visual elements of the elevation and structure can be effectively played with to give the illusion of a greater horizontal spread than actually exists. This could be achieved by playing with materials, colours, even the composition of the structure where the mass is broken into smaller segments, treating each space as an individual block instead of a continuous frame in elevation. Thus, segmentation can be brought in the form by projecting the roof out, altering the façade with balconies, and receding some of the spaces on the upper floors.

Opting for split levels in the structure again helps to cut down on the vertical expanse, but this can be achieved if the size of the site is fairly large. Here, the spaces can be at different levels, spread over a horizontal expanse where the difference between the levels is not too large so as to visually keep the structure low. A similar horizontal spread can also be brought in by opting for long horizontal lines that are pronounced enough to cut down visually the vertical space.

Says Architect Leena Kumar, Kumar Consultants, “The horizontal lines can be brought in through cladding where the individual pieces like stone are long, forming permanent horizontal bands. These bands need not be only for cladding, but can be in materials used in the structure too, where the stones used are lengthier than normal, lending the visual horizontal expanse.”

She further adds that the heaviness of the vertical mass too can be cut down by using glass in balconies, and even in the compound walls. “There are different types of glass available, which when used gives a lighter feel as well as enhances the aesthetics.”

Role of colours

Colours again play a significant role in creating visual dimensions and these can be used effectively to cut the vertical space. Says Architect Akshara Verma, ACE Group Architects, “Interest in elevation as well as cutting down on the large chunky mass can be achieved by opting for varied colours that enhance the dimensions that already exist and create dimensions through the contrasting colours.”

She contends that play of different materials in the façade would again cut down on the vertical expanse. “This would demarcate the spaces and the façade, introducing dimensions to cut down on the vertical spread.”

Thus the use of bricks, exposed concrete, and stone on the façade would bring in dimensions to the elevation, cutting down on the mass. If this is teamed up with pergolas and creepers, the green element would add another refreshing dimension, especially if the upper floors are slightly receded to segment the individual spaces.

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