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Shiv Temple by Sameep Padora & Associates, Wadeshwar, Maharashtra, India

Emerging Architecture Awards 2010: Highly Commended

Regular AR readers will recognise Shiv Temple as the emblematic project featured on the cover of our recent special edition on contemporary Indian architecture (AR Sept 2010). Sharing the same opinion as our editors, the jury was immediately drawn to the simplicity of the form as a distillation of historic temple forms, and to the narrative of Sameep Padora’s involvement.

Built for the Hindu community of Wadeshwar, a village four hours south-east of Mumbai, the project was an exercise in shramdaan, in which people donate labour for free. Originally approached to make a financial donation, the young architect offered his time instead, helping the client select the site and choose materials before producing and coordinating the final architectural design. Laterite fieldstone from a local quarry was used to construct the tower or shikhara. With such limited resources, the architect’s key move was to make the most of the landscape through a clever reinterpretation of built form, substituting the traditional pillared hall in front, where people sit and pray, with a landscape glade or forest clearing.

Before making their final decision, the jurors queried the architect’s use of daylight, as the inner sanctum or garbhagriha would normally be a dark and mysterious place, entered into for solitary worship of Parvati, Shiva’s consort. Eventually however, due to the architect’s close working relationship with the priest, the assumption was made that the client must have been happy with this relatively significant reinterpretation. Clearly the effects have their own merit, providing a view to the lake through the bold timber porch, and dramatic toplight through the glazed occulus at the top of the tower that gives worshippers a view of the kalash, a finial cast in ashtadhatu, an alloy of eight metals (silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron, and mercury) that Hindus believe makes this a truly sacred place.

Architect: Sameep Padora & Associates

Design: Team Sameep Padora, Vinay Mathias, Minal Modak

Photography: Edmund Sumner

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