The three crucial spaces at Savista are: the haveli, the eastern complex, and the open spaces consisting of gardens and croplands. Each is designed to have its own unique existence and identity. Yet, each also exists in harmony with the other; and together they exist in harmony with the overall eco-system of the area.
The emphasis is on simplicity, integration of nature and the built environment, and a blend of traditional design elements with modern comforts.
The haveli integrates the inside and outside through the medium of natural stone, greenery, sky and water. The external walls of the haveli are lined with windows and sun terraces that offer unhindered visual access to the expansive natural surroundings. All the built spaces – guest rooms and communal spaces – are integrated with the open inner courtyard where trees and nesting birds, a freshwater pool and open sky provide the natural anchor.
The eastern court which houses the gym, spa, alfresco dining areas and kitchen is set within a grove thick with trees and flowering hedges of hibiscus and henna which sustain busy bird, butterfly and insect activity. This is designed as a space for physical activity and social interaction to the gentle rhythms of the green vista all around. Parrots come right up to the gym door and even try out some gym moves of their own on the tips of branches or ropes of the marquee just outside; sleepy-looking spotted owls occasionally emerge to peer shortsightedly from their tree perches at the breakfast activity in the gazebos; whole families of whooping parrots are absorbed in their own social life; butterflies flit closeby as they drink from the hibiscus flowers; a massage can be had to the accompaniment of twittering birds, topped off with a shower in an open-air green hedge cubicle; and if one is lucky, one of our resident peacocks might even be in a mood to make a flamboyant appearance.
The gardens are integrated with the haveli and eastern court; their rustic character help them ease their way naturally into the cropland, furrowed fields and wildflowers on the estate and to remain in sync with the rest of the surrounding countryside.
Another aspect of Savista’s design aesthetic is its blend of the traditional and modern, and the integration of multiple cultural elements. The haveli – originally built as a hunting lodge – reflects the resplendent heritage of Rajput – and partially Mughal – architectural design: the essential features of the central courtyard, the chhattris (canopies/cupolas) on the roof, the balconies with their gently scalloped arches (mehraabs). When it was restored, its integrity in this regard was maintained. The interiors, however, were redesigned to be comfortable and modern with plenty of natural light and air, which meant opening up more windows and enclosing some previously open verandahs. In its present form it would seem to evoke – to the modern eye – shades of ‘Bauhaus’ architecture: clear lines, straight edges, smooth facades, Indian style pavilions, an absence of superfluous features, and a lightness and airiness that together produce a simple but powerful effect.
The recasting of the traditional Rajasthani courtyard – signifying seclusion from the outside – into a unifying ‘pool-court’ also reflects this blend of traditional and modern. The Mughals – originally invaders from the dry Central Asian steppes – exulted in the abundant availability of water in their adopted homeland and designed their residences to have flowing water channels in the interiors. Traditional Rajput architecture borrowed heavily from the Mughals. At Savista, our pool-court with the swimming pool in the centre of the courtyard and the sound of water constantly flowing into it is a traditional aesthetic blended with modern purpose that also enhances social interaction.
The exterior walls of the haveli and eastern court are in all-white – as an environmental measure – as are the curtains in the communal spaces, as a pleasing complement. The interior décor of the haveli integrates natural themes with beautiful craftsmanship. The attempt is to blend artefacts that are local to Rajasthan’s classical and folk traditions with those drawn from other regions of India, as well as modern elements that reflect contemporary purpose and utility.