Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Places of Beauty and Charm

The projects of the architecture firm, 'Stapati', headed by Tony Joseph, have received international appreciation 
Photos: Tony Joseph (centre, middle row) with members of the Stapati team; Alila Diwa in Goa; the Vythiri Resort in Wayanad, Kerala   

By Shevlin Sebastian

Sometime ago, architect Tony Joseph, founder of the firm, Stapati, had gone to Singapore. While having a meeting with one of the island’s top architects, he was introduced to a group of people. When he told them that he is from Kerala, they said that they had stayed at the Kumarakom Lake Resort. “I designed it,” said Joseph. There was an instant elation among the group members who congratulated him on designing such a beautiful property. “It feels great when your work is appreciated,” says Joseph.

The Lake resort is one of 11 projects of Stapati that has been featured in a classy coffee table book called 'Timeless Resorts'. The others include the Alila Diwa in Goa, Vythiri Resort at Wayanad, Madhuban Resort and Spa in Anand, Gujarat and the Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles.  

The photographs are stunning and jaw-dropping. For each project, there is an explanation of the reasons behind the design, as well as a map of the location, apart from the photos.

The book, priced at Rs 2600, has been published by the San Francisco-based Oro Editions. While leading architect Christopher C. Benninger has penned the foreword, the text has been written by Stapati architect Sujith GS. It was released at a function at the Crowne Plaza, Kochi, on December 21, by Alex Kuruvila, the Chief Executive of Conde Nast India, in the presence of Kochi Biennale founder Bose Krishnamachari.

It is always an honour when a monograph is published on your works,” says Joseph. “Oro Editions are the leading publishers of international architecture books. People will get a feel of the type of work that is being done in India. Also, a lot of the projects are from Kerala, so it is a great mileage for the state.”

Indeed, when you look at this engrossing book, one is taken aback at the seamless way that the buildings have been merged into the environment.

Our team does an extensive study of the local architecture as well as the site,” says Joseph. “In Vythiri, the project was located in an abandoned coffee estate. We did a detailed survey where every rock and tree was inspected. We made sure we did not cut a single tree. And every rock was preserved. We did the same thing at the Alila Diwa in Goa. There were a lot of old trees. We made sure the design revolved around the trees, so that there is a natural landscape.”

It seems to be the right way because all the projects are doing very well. “In Seychelles, most government functions take place at our resort,” says Joseph. “The people like it because we have retained the local character.”

Asked his philosophy, Joseph says, “When you are sincere to a project, you will make sure that the site is not disturbed. This will ensure that the end-user is happy. It is also important to keep the costs low, so that the owner is also happy. So, for me, the prime attitude is one of sincerity.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)   

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