Sensitivity thrives in the interiors of women’s staff quarters by Shivani Dogra
SEP 29, 2021 | By Anushua Aich
Being a woman, and someone who has studied in a boarding school, interior designer Shivani Dogra outlined this project based on joy, simplicity and comfort. The project has also been deemed experimental as the two conservation architects SECTION CC and Ajaydeep Singh Jamwal, in collaboration with Dogra, decided to revive, recycle and restore a historic building with less conventional furniture.
The quarters for women’s staff at Scindia, Gwalior overlooks quietude. The building inhabiting these quarters is not only a reconstructed part of the Gwalior fort but was also known as the Raj era ammunition depot. The area that this entire building structure takes up is 6000 sq ft.
One of the design forms that has been retrieved carefully, acknowledging its original essence, is the Raj era form. Ashlar masonry design emerges to be one of them too. Besides, the other main structural changes includes toilet blocks at the rear end of the building, sandblasting the walls to reveal the beautiful Ashlar masonry and placing a corrugated metal sheet roof.
One of the most significant attractions of this project is studio-based quarters for the young women staff. “I’d lived most my life in a boarding school or hostel and I recalled that one of the main aspects that determined a comfortable and happy stay were the rooms I lived in. I thought of how the young women staff occupying these spaces would want to feel whilst living in them,” reminisced Dogra.
Each studio features a unit of different colour and shade. The first door opens into a yellow and black themed studio, the second exhibits a cherry pink studio, the third a muted brown, the fourth an orange and navy, the fifth featuring a green studio and the last unit is a multicoloured one. Indeed, these colours unfold as an ode to the multiple tones of green that trees like Keekar and palm have, the lively pink of Bougainvillea—largely bringing to the fore the kind of dry vegetation found in Gwalior.
Each space, ranging from living area to the bedroom, upholds the emotions of ‘joy, simplicity and comfort’, which initially Dogra started designing with. On either side of the studio sits the living room and the dining space. The kitchen adjoins the dining space, which also faces the bedroom. And a small L-shaped wall separates the bedroom from these spaces.
Standing at the height of 5.5 metres, are ceilings, with vents and air based cooling systems that keeps the rooms cool during summer.
“I enjoyed designing the green and white studio the most. There is something extremely comforting about working with green and it lends itself beautifully to lime washed walls. I also enjoyed going through the archival photographs of Scindia school and choosing pictures from them that we could use for these units. This project allowed one to escape momentarily into the school’s past and experience briefly the world of it’s older students and traditions”, expressed Dogra, as she made clear that her choice of colours of the room is determined by the kitchen handmade tiles that have been sourced from Delhi. In the meantime, she also stated that she wanted to keep the finishes of the furniture as basic as possible as the building lent itself to a rustic aesthetic.
The multicoloured studio was an uphill task to design. “I found that working with multiple colours such as the burnt orange and blue were more challenging, as we were working within a deadline and a well done multicoloured space takes time to put together,” mused Dogra.
At the core of this project, is grounded a powerful design learning, which is based on sustainability and judicious use of school property to build these charming quarters for the women staff at Scindia, Gwalior. Ranging between sourcing furniture and lights from school storerooms to turning wooden planks found in school campus into kitchen shutters; all were directed at where the use of the artificial was minimal.
Scroll down to see more glimpses of the space—
If this space makes your soul happy, make sure you check out this family home designed by D’WELL!