The design that eventually emerged celebrated not only the local climate, context, and materials, but also the five key virtues that underpin Buddhism: wisdom, courage, compassion, tolerance, and perseverance. (For anyone interested in learning more about this unique design story grounded in the principles of Buddhism, the main mandala is arranged on a sandstone plaque at the hotel entrance.)
Palette of materials by Marasa Sarovar Première Bodh Gaya
Although the SJK team initially intended to build the complex entirely of brick, their idealism was shattered when it collided with the realities on the ground. “The sandy soil had a low bearing capacity, and it would have been necessary to go very deep to lay the foundation, which would then involve bricks at a prohibitive cost,” says Kadri, who had previously hoped that they would have a chance to strengthen their foundation. sponsorship of the local economy with the use of bricks. However, she soon became aware of the carbon that would be released into the environment during the baking process involved in making the bricks. Eventually, the team ended up using a combination of concrete, aerated concrete blocks and bricks sourced from Varanasi and Bodh Gaya. They also innovated on the go: mixing pigments in concrete and replacing the idea of brick vaults with colored concrete vaults. It also made it possible to use aerated concrete blocks to insulate the structure 1.5 times better than bricks, thus reducing overall air conditioning costs in the long run.
However, the team had stopped on a material: the half-round terracotta tiles called “country”, made by farmers on a potter’s wheel. “The client suggested that we use factory-made tiles, but I asked them to support my team in this choice,” says Kadri. Moved by her tenacity, the project manager ended up sourcing tiles from 26 families in 12 different villages in Bodh Gaya.
The concept of brick was also retained in the interior decoration by using it as a covering in the guest room and cafes. “Here, [we did with] brick cladding what other hotels do in terms of stone cladding and wallpaper, ”Shankar points out. According to Kshirsagar, their guiding design philosophy focused on restraint, which also proved to be a challenge when designing the luxury space. “We chose easy-care materials like linen and cotton, and we limited ourselves to soft, muted palettes to make the room feel like an extension of the elements. The property also has a large body of water, inspired by the lily pond at Mahabodhi temple. “We visualized it as being full of lotuses,” Shankar explains. “There isn’t one yet. But one day we are sure there will be. Patience, after all, is the greatest prayer, said Gautam Buddha.