; Utsav Camp Sariska by Studio Mestry is an enchanting escape

Design

An enchanting escape—Step into Utsav Camp, a design-focussed forest retreat crafted by Studio Mestry

JUN 10, 2022 | By Sneha Gandhi
The vintage boat in the central water body in the courtyard along with the black earthen pots are from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur. All outdoor black metal furniture and mashaal lights are from Kernig Krafts; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The stone cabin walls are painted in Asian Paints wall colour with customised wildlife wallpaper from Metamorph. The rugs, cushions and sofa upholstery are from Shubham, Cotton Canvas. The pendant cane lights from Aaryanvi Associates. Vintage furniture, wall decor and artefacts are from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The extended semi covered area of the stone cabin is made on-site with a monolithic concrete bed; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The forest lounge setup includes a monolithic stone seating built on-site constructed on a broken kota flooring. The cushion and sofa upholstery are from Shubham, Cotton Canvas; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The restaurant walls are painted in Asian Paints and the vintage wooden wall panel behind is from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The bamboo roof is built on-site with locally available materials whereas the bamboo screens at the end are from Kernig Krafts. The metal lights from Aaryanvi Associates; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
The library is coloured in Asian Paints wall colour. The sofa, chairs and benches from Kernig Krafts along with rugs, cushion and sofa upholstery from Shubham, Cotton Canvas. The suspended terracotta and cane lights are from Aaryanvi Associates; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur
Lime plastered in Desert Palm Asian Paints Colour, the reception area walls have an earthy glow. The black table lamps are from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur and the wooden bench and planters are from Kernig Kraft; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

Rooted in quietude, wilderness and design laced with thoughts of outdoor adventures, Utsav Camp in Alwar, Rajasthan is a vision to behold and a place to experience away from the bustle and noises of a city life.

Hidden in the cascading flora and fauna of Sariska, the sanctuary is a mesmerising brainchild of a trained naturalist Luv Shekhawat.

Conceptualised and designed by Akshaya Mestry, Principal Architect at Studio Mestry Utsav Camp sprawling over 375000 sq ft (3.5 hectares) poses as a rite of passage that leads to inner peace and stimulates organic connections with one’s surroundings harnessing the healing power of nature and rejuvenating the soul. 

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Studio Mestry
The outdoor library cafe showcases artefacts and decorative central lights from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

Let’t rewind to a little backstory before this retreat took shape. In a situation disturbed by the pandemic, one of the most tricky challenges a designer could face is dealing with and executing design details virtually. This hiccup however, resulted in interesting endeavours for Akshaya and Luv, both, while crafting the space to completion. The coordination that followed for the designing of the retreat happened over video calls and email for over three months.

When Akshaya was first entrusted to transform the interiors of the then raw rubble shell, she was drawn to the reviving ambience of the adjoining forest. The lush surroundings compelled her to recreate a harmonising palette of indoor-meets-outdoors.

She divulges, “Being one of the oldest natural habitats in the world, Sariska’s trove of vegetation and fauna posed as the muse of the design narrative, etching an indelible impression upon the medley of spaces at Utsav Camp.”

Studio Mestry
The library is characterised by Asian Paints wall colour paired with customised wallpaper from Metamorph, sofa, chairs and benches from Kernig Krafts, rugs, cushion and sofa upholstery from Shubham, Cotton Canvas. The suspended terracotta and cane lights are from Aaryanvi Associates and vintage furniture like the wheel console is from Prince Arts Exporter in Jodhpur; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

To unlock the site’s maximum potential, Studio Mestry remodelled a few spaces including the forest lounge and stone cabins, adding in their own sensibilities. Use of indigenous materials like warm-toned wood, cool hand plaster lime walls complemented by beige, grey and olive green accents mould a rooted, homely colour palette. 

Antique-style acacia and rosewood furniture, strategically placed custom artwork and artefacts exude an old-world charm, a subtle nod to the royal heritage of the State. A series of built in-house suspended lights crafted out of jute, metal and terracotta illuminate the jungle retreat.  

Studio Mestry
The reception area walls are lime plastered in Desert Palm Asian Paints Colour. The wooden bench and planters are from Kernig Kraft; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

Customised wallpapers narrating the stories of Sariska are the heart of every space. With their surreal wildlife illustrations, the wall coverings act as a catalyst calling out to the landscape beyond.

The reception area of Utsav Camp unfolds into a wide open courtyard also known as the outdoor library cafe as it is flanked by a private library. The library adjoins an enormous conventional restaurant. The upper levels of the restaurant include an in-house bar and forest lounge.

Studio Mestry
The upper indoor bar adjoining the forest lounge is painted in Asian Paints wall colour with curated wall decor and artefacts from Prince Arts Exporter and cane lights from Aaryanvi Associates; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

 

Studio Mestry
Wooden rafters framing the bar and the bar counter decorated with laser cut animal metal artwork are from Kernig Krafts complemented with custom wallpaper from Metamorph. Existing chairs have been refurbished on-site and metal tables with stone tops from Kernig Krafts; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

Elaborating on why the library and the forest lounge are their personal favourite spots, Akshaya reveals, “Our main focus was for people to enjoy a raw yet warm atmosphere within these spaces. Utsav Camp immerses the guests in a tactile milieu that revels in an untainted and rustic demeanour.”

Studio Mestry
The restaurant walls are painted in Asian Paints with customised wallpaper from Metamorph. Vintage furniture like the black barrel with candle lamp is from Prince Arts Exporter whereas the charpai is from Kernig Krafts; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

The restaurant verandah further morphs into an external courtyard bordered by mammoth rubble buttresses. The centrally located outdoor garden restaurant with a rectangular pool enjoys captivating views of the skies.

Two meandering pathways hint a sequential directionality as they usher one into the spatially dispersed stone cabins and tents. The pathways connect both the public and the private sections of the site, disintegrating only to provide pause points for self reflection. 

MS framework and bamboo rafter roofs fabricate a semi-covered sit-out space in the forest lounge. The stone cabins house similar extensions to enable additional privacy for the guests.

Studio Mestry
The open courtyard cabana seating is made on-site with locally available bamboo. The mashaal lights and all black metal furniture are custom made from Kernig Krafts; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

The ingenious design of the monolithic bed built under the bamboo roof incorporates a projected back that doubles up as a study desk. The stone bed is a sun-kissed, breezy escape in the day and a silent spectator of the star-filled sky at night. 

Where every section of this place bursts with mindful design elements, Studio Mestry augmented this by installing bamboo screens in the southern facing walls to avoid overheating during summers. The screens filter in sunlight during winters. Embracing a sustainable approach, the studio utilises on-site wood, bamboo, natural stones, and local labour to establish a rooted and earthy essence in the project. 

A relaxed and cosy seating area in the open courtyard with black metal furniture custom made from Kernig Krafts; Photographs by Anudeep Mathur

“Utsav Camp is a celebration of nature and tracing one’s roots,” concludes Akshaya. Far away from the monotonous and overwhelming clutches of urbanisation, the retreat stands proud as a delightful reminder of the inherent joy of outdoor-focussed, sustainable living.

If you enjoyed reading about this sensory haven, check out Stone Lodges – Private Residences in Wayanad by Earthitects are all parts picturesque, serene and sustainable