All posts by Navjot Kaur

Stretching Architectural Boundaries along with Studio 8FOLD | DT Interview

Young practices across the globe are challenging conventional ways of practicing architecture. In this process of redefining the architectural scope, the practice in conversation with us this week – Studio 8FOLD – strikes right on what the field can really deliver beyond the known conceptions and how.

The talk covers their recent projects and issues that are also close to the hearts of many proactive sustainability lovers, like yourself, and concerned social reformers. If you were also impressed by their well researched competition entries and ‘Wasteline’ exhibition, we have got it all covered. Read on to get inspired by what Aleks, Alex and Lloyd have got to say!

Aleksandar Stojakovic

Alexander Frehse

Studio 8FOLD

Studio 8FOLD is an innovative design, strategy and research led studio based in London & Berlin.

The founders of the studio, Aleksandar Stojakovic & Alexander Frehse, see architecture as a powerful nexus to fuse social & environmentally conscious projects with capital-driven projects, spatialising  an outcome that leverages the best attributes of each.

In their words, “We seek out organisations that aim to bring about a cultural shift for a more sustainable world, starting at a neighbourhood scale, and with this innovative initiative create a powerful USP for the capital-driven party involved. Through our unique set of skills in synthesising research, spatial intelligence, and bringing together the right people we help both parties to find a win-win outcome.”

At Studio 8FOLD, the team values collaboration, initiative, and offer synthesis through spatial intelligence.

Lloyd Martin

Competition Head

Lloyd Martin heads the competition team at Studio 8FOLD. He was born in Zimbabwe, raised in Botswana, trained in South Africa and spent over six years travelling. He is driven by new experiences in creative and social realms; feeding off the unknown, with hunger for knowledge and adventure.

His two years at Netherlands were spent in finding opportunities for the urban metabolism framework to contribute to the sustainable development of the city. For the past two years he helped set up and has been lecturing at the Architecture Department of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. During which, he has been conducting research/working with the Great Demas Nwoko. (artist, architect, renaissance man).

DesignTerrains (DT): Welcome Aleksandar and Alex! Thank you for letting us cover your practice. Foremost, we would like to hear about the germination of Studio 8 Fold.

Alexander Frehse (Alex): The idea of studio 8FOLD was taking shape when we were both still studying at the University of Cape Town, first having met on registration day for our Bachelor’s degree. Our undergraduate years were hands-on, walking the earth, having to tackle problems in extremely complex environments, and we shared the same values when it came to talking about architecture’s role in shaping a better future. I guess we knew already then that we wanted to start something that would do exactly this.

Aleksandar Stojakovic (Aleks): After completing undergrad, I came to London and worked a few years at Paul Davis + Partners in London and then Grimshaw. Alex went down a different route at first and initially we parted ways. He worked at Alejandro Aravena’s office ELEMENTAL, which had a remarkable impact on him. A few years later after further studying in Cape Town, he came over to London and joined me at PDP.

In the office there were a bunch of us looking to do our Part 2 qualifications, and the London School of Architecture (LSA) caused hot debate. At that stage it was a risky option to apply because it didn’t yet have accreditation, no previous students, and we would be the guinea pigs, but it was promising to break ground in an architectural education that merged academia and practice and fixated on tackling the real world problems. You can guess what we did!

Continue reading Stretching Architectural Boundaries along with Studio 8FOLD | DT Interview

Eco High End Hotel in the Western Ghats | SWS 003

Student: Monal Ambastha
Course: Bachelor of Architecture
Institution: Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi
Project Year : 2019
Project Type: Final Thesis


The project site is situated near upcoming international airport in Navi Mumbai. The climate of the region falls under hot and humid, with major wind flow from the West. The design features are based on the climatic analysis and incorporates passive cooling measures that have proven to reduce thermal loads in past research studies.

Panvel is called the gateway of Konkan coast. It marks the onset of the western ghats range. The form of the building is inspired from the terrains of the Western Ghats. Every plate is unique and is arranged in such a way so that it resonates with the different terrains of the Western Ghats and represent a hill-like form. This also comes as a response to minimise the surface run off during heavy monsoon rains and manage harvested water at different levels.

View of the hotel from access road. Src: Monal Ambastha. Copyrights.
Continue reading Eco High End Hotel in the Western Ghats | SWS 003

Krithika Prakash on Sustainability Program at NUS | DT Interview

Specialising in sustainable design is an idea that has picked up within this decade, with several renowned institutions offering sustainability focused programs. Predominantly these programs choose to enroll a multidisciplinary batch of students for promoting interchanging of diverse ideas. Whether this is beneficial for specialising in sustainability is something that remains questionable. For understanding how such programs truly work and what do they equip a student with, DesignTerrains held an interview with Krithika Prakash, who is an alumna of the National University of Singapore and had undertaken masters in their leading sustainability program.

About Krithika Prakash

After graduating in 2015 with a bachelors in architecture, Krithika worked as an architect in Bangalore and Hyderabad before bending her career towards sustainability. She has a masters from National University of Singapore in Integrated Sustainable Design and at present is with Arth Design Build, Singapore as a BIM Coordinator.

MSc Integrated Sustainable Design, NUS

Focused on sustainable urbanisation of Asian cities, this one year post professional course at National University of Singapore is one of the top ranked sustainability course in the world. It encompasses a multidisciplinary approach and covers technical and spatial knowledge required to work in the domain of sustainability.

However, it is imperative to know whether the course is able to achieve what it claims. To understand its strengths and shortcomings, we are thankful to Krithika for taking out time and giving our readers an inside overview of the ISD program.

If you are considering applying to NUS for this course, this piece of conversation will benefit you in many ways!

DesignTerrains (DT): How early in your career, did you realize your inclination towards sustainable design?

Krithika Prakash (KP): Sustainability is at the forefront when it comes to tackling most major issues globally today. As an architect and a designer, I felt we as a profession are morally obliged to play a bigger role in this and set a path for the future. During my undergrad and then while I was working post that, I constantly read about what’s happening in the field of Building Design and Construction in terms of sustainability and it eventually seemed like the obvious path to choose if I were to pursue a Master’s Degree.

Continue reading Krithika Prakash on Sustainability Program at NUS | DT Interview

Curating Evolution of Poombarai Settlement | SWS 002

Project Field : Architecture
Project Year : 2018
Project Type : Competition Entry (NASA 2018 LIK Trophy)
Institution : Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai
Team Members:
Vidhushyaa; Sowjith; Maoulieswaran; Akeel; Amritha; Gayathri; Gokul; Subraja; Ishwarya; Renga; Deepak; Jeysadhana; Marugananthavalli; Prasath; Kirithika; Nikil; Vijay

Disclaimer : Project text and work is provided by the rightful owners to Design Terrains. It cannot be used for any purpose without permission.

About Poombarai

The Poombarai settlement in Tamil Nadu, India is rich with its contextual architecture addressing the contour, climate and the spiritual background that supports the village’s functioning. With caste based initiation of settlement pattern, the ownership of various spaces for various generation of user is very unique

The site selected is group of dwellings in Poombarai . The street activity being the major focus to differentiate . The linear clusters, street was studied based on the interiors of the houses in them , for instance , the presence of chairs or bed space anthropometry played a major role in the street activity.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.
Evolution of Dwellings

The Evolution of the dwellings over years has significant role on user requirements. This change in typologies are mainly due to various factors like climate, comfort, skill, strength and availability of materials. The first dwellings typology is Alaku Kutchi, made of twigs and mud. Later Muthaliyars started constructing in stone, which showed their wealth. During British influence , natives became exposed to new materials and construction like wood and glass .Currently, suiting current context and economy, Bricks are being used, as it is cheap and easily available.

Continue reading Curating Evolution of Poombarai Settlement | SWS 002

Discovering altARQ with Tunisha Mehta | DT Interview

Tunisha Mehta

Tunisha is the founder of altARQ collaborative and is currently working with the Bihar State Government to spearhead an international collaboration of volunteers from multiple disciplines for new urban studies’ exploration and implementation.

As an architect, she had her professional training from Design Atelier – Bangalore, Junya.Ishigami+Associates – Tokyo and Mangera Yvars Architects – Barcelona. Having worked in India, Japan and Spain, she firmly believes a deep contextual understanding is key to any veritable set-up.


altARQ collaborative is a consultancy practice rooted in architecture and urbanism for The Global South. They work with crossovers of multiple disciplines to system think and design for problem-solving with r-urban resilience, sustainability, and spatial equity as their core concepts. The practice is anchored in the r-urban development of Bihar, India.

Project Patna

A research-driven call-to-action initiative by altARQ to rethink Patna’s Urban dynamics, generating new insights for urban planning and governance. The project is in the team-building phase and is openly inviting architects, urbanists, geographers, economists, and policy analysts to join in. Tunisha believes that the germination of this project has a distant vision of adopting urban resilience and spatial justice in the existing Indian cities.

The Carbon Casbah

The project is a design exploration into Carbon Sequestration and Negative Emission Schemes as a material allegory to the Sundarbans’ Mangroves. It is designed with locally available and low embodied impact materials like bamboo, wood, soil, and biochar-concrete, that sequester carbon than with materials that emit carbon in their lifecycle. It was designed as a housing solution for the Sundarbanis, as scaling it up into social collectives- according to the needs of the populace- with careful adoption of alternate economies favouring the conservation of biodiversity should help create sustainable communities and generate resilience to climate change.   

Carbon Casbah is built with light-weight local materials that sequester carbon, they’re flood-resilient, affordable and scalable. img via altARQ

In conversation with us, Tunisha brings forth the true meaning of an unconventional practice and the need for compassionate research on civic issues. Read on to find interesting insights into her practice and projects!

DesignTerrains (DT): altARQ is a great initiative! When did you first conceive the idea of a research-based practice?

Tunisha Mehta (TM): Thanks, so is DesignTerrains! It’s so critical to foster among students and professionals empathy towards the climate.
So the distant goal is to have a larger, more meaningful impact on the planet and all its beings. The idea germinated very early on during the final year of university as “alternative architecture.” Those days, I was a huge fan of alt-rock and prog-rock music; these genres are quite distinct from mainstream and commercial music. Inspired by this and hence, altARQ does not recognise itself as only an architecture studio, it’d rather be a testbed for ideas and innovations.

The practice intends to break boundaries of mainstream architecture practice and go beyond the disciplinary silos. Gradually, I hope to shift the practice of altARQ to international development with architecture and urbanism feeding insights to it.  

Continue reading Discovering altARQ with Tunisha Mehta | DT Interview

Panyaden Secondary School Design Concept | Chiangmai Life Architects

Project Year : Construction started in 2018 and is estimated to finish in 2022.
Design Team: Chiangmai Life Architects (Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong)
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Photograph credits: Markus Roselieb CLA

We are humbled to bring to our readers an insight to one of the ongoing project of CLA, an architectural practice based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The practice is well known for their work with organic architecture and sustainability. We went ahead and asked them about the concept and ideas behind designing of Panyaden Secondary School, along which they have also uncovered various techniques that are employed in the building.

We are personally in awe with their values and respect their determination in establishing an unconventional precedence. Read on to find what they have to say on the project!

Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong ; img via CLA

Panyaden’s main concept for design as well as curriculum is to connect. Connect us to our environment, connect natural materials with state-of-the-art engineering science, connect value-based education with the highest academic standards, sustainable architecture and 21st century comforts. It is about bringing aspects together that were thought to be mutually exclusive; including not excluding.

Bringing the subtle vibrations of nature into the room through organic shapes and natural materials and letting them create a peaceful atmosphere, and equipping the room with the most modern science equipment and 5G embedded in an IB curriculum.

Panyaden School is situated in northern Thailand where the temperatures vary greatly all year round – from 5 to 10C° in winter to 45C° in summer. So the design and materials had to accommodate these differences with a minimum use of air-conditioning or other high energy consumptive devices.

“The architectural design concept by Chiangmai Life Architects is based on organic shapes. Flowing natural lines that are in tune with the environment and maximize natural ventilation effects.”

The main materials chosen for construction are clay and bamboo. Clay in the form of adobe bricks, rammed earth or wattle & daub walls and bamboo for the roofs and as main material for open buildings in Thai language called “sala”, like the canteen. For 2-storey buildings the local building commission demanded a reinforced concrete frame work. Also all foundations were cast from reinforced concrete.

The bamboo roof is based on long bamboo bundles that are made of bamboo poles that are connected to each other with bamboo dowels all through their length and thus create a steel cable like tensile structure. The tiling is done by several layers of split-bamboo tiles with tar sheets sandwiched in between for water proofing as well as thermal insulation.

The earthen walls create a nice cool room climate that is enhanced by the characteristics of the bamboo roof. Additionally, clean fresh air is circulated into the rooms after having been cooled down through heat-exchange in underground pipes.

“Thus the carbon footprint from construction as well as from operation is minimal.”

Construction Glimpse

A Talk with Farah Naz Ahmad On U.S. Green Buildings, Education, Government and more | DT Interviews

Farah Naz Ahmad is a Registered Architect with NCARB, LEED AP, a sustainable design professional and now working as a government official on public projects in New York. She graduated in 2012 from City College of New York, with a bachelors in architecture. Her role as Student Communications Project Leader for the CCNY team at Solar Decathlon 2011, has had a huge impact on her current career choice.

She also served as the President of American Institute of Architecture Students chapter at CCNY. As an observer, she attended the signing of Paris Agreement for Climate Change on Earth Day 2016, and has shared few clips from the day at UN headquarters on her blog. She actively engages with students and professionals via Twitter @farah_arch and Instagram @renewablefarah.

Born and brought up in New York, she has a keen interest in the way city is responding to the climate change and green architecture. In conversation with DesignTerrains, she hints on the factors influencing building sustainably in the US and her personal journey as a sustainable design architect.

DesignTerrains (DT) : How early in your career did you start thinking about energy efficiency in buildings?

Farah Ahmad (FA) : Professionally one of my first role was working on an energy engineering project in the public schools of New York city. That particular project involved energy savings for public schools that were 30,000 sq. ft. buildings to 300,000 sq. ft. buildings. What we were doing was replacing older lighting fixtures with more energy efficient ones.

Continue reading A Talk with Farah Naz Ahmad On U.S. Green Buildings, Education, Government and more | DT Interviews

‘Green Nudges’ programme for Universities | UNEP

UN Environment Programme had launched on 1st September 2020, an easy to use sustainable campus guide – ‘The Little Book of Green Nudges‘. The book defines nudges as positive and gentle persuasions that are meant to influence behaviour and decision-making. Such interventions include choice architecture, default setting, social influence and increased salience.

via The Little Book of Green Nudges by UNEP

Developed by UNEP in collaboration with Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) and GRID-Arendal, it contains 40 ready-made nudges – simple measures that make it easier to make green choices – which university campuses can deploy to encourage students and staff to embrace more sustainable behaviours.

This book can be used a guide by anyone who wants to create positive change at their university, anywhere around the world, from provosts to campus sustainability coordinators to professors to student leaders.

Continue reading ‘Green Nudges’ programme for Universities | UNEP

atpX on Collective Growth of Community & More | DT Interview

Led by a team of two, atpX is a multidisciplinary international design practice that has evolved out of curiosity for a balance between the innovation and tradition.

With GenRes 18 (Generate Resilience) being the founding community project, the practice is now immersed in research and innovation based – LivingLab, Project Neer, The Oasis, 100 Doors, The Router, along with many others.

atpX team : Alisha Raman & Sarvesh Singh

Alisha Raman and Sarvesh Singh began their design quest for bamboo construction early in their graduation in India, which has now proliferated as design derivative exploration of community practices, technological and material alternatives, parametrics, traditional crafts and more.

In conversation with DesignTerrains, the team brings forward their journey so far along with upturning reflections on their practice and projects. Read on to discover more about the visions steering their work!

DesignTerrains (DT) : You have come a long way since GenRes18 at Majuli Island in Assam. How do you look back and consider its success in establishing atpX?

atpX (AX) : So kind of you to say this. Reflecting on that experience, there has been one key learning – that the most effective solutions often stem from the most uncertain places and not knowing can potentially be a blessing.

We’re still not sure if the project is a success, at least in conventional metrics, probably because so much of it doesn’t conform to what you would call industrial norms. But, it certainly tries to respond mindfully to its environment and perhaps this awareness led to the genesis of our praxis.

Continue reading atpX on Collective Growth of Community & More | DT Interview

Upcycled Shipping Container Microhouse | Sukshm | SWS 001

Student : Shivam Arya

Semester : Sixth

Course : Bachelor of Architecture

Institution : Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi

Project Year : 2020

Project Type : Competition Entry – 2nd RunnerUp at Micronation Competition 1

Project Brief

The competition brief was quite simple. We were asked to design a microhouse living concept on a hypothetical site of 5mx5m with basic living requirements as provided with proper planning, sections, illustrations and other explanatory details as per participants’ interest.

Research and Concept Synthesis

Though the provided brief was straightforward but the challenge was to come up with a unique spatial algorithm. I started bifurcating the brief and thought of going in detail of every aspect and requirements.

Upon doing enough research on materials and existing microhousing trends, I finally came up with an adaptable design – which was upcycling of shipping container. I found this to be practical as well as environment friendly. My focus was to showcase sustainability factors in design when added to fulfilling design brief requirements.

Although shipping containers have been employed practically in many affordable housing projects, my input to this was creating a better responsive spatial arrangement while using every surface as an opportunity for enhancing energy efficiency and biodiversity.

Continue reading Upcycled Shipping Container Microhouse | Sukshm | SWS 001