Ayurvedic Health Centre
(Ayushakti Health Resort)
Wellness Architecture I Mumbai, Maharashtra
Client Dr Pankaj & Dr Smita Naram
Area 13,000 Sq.ft
Status Completed 1999
Photographer Noshir Gobhai
Team Shimul Javeri Kadri, Deepa Bagde, Sapna Marfatia
The representation of Ayurveda as a contemporary science rooted in Indian tradition is the message the building attempts to portray.
Ayushakti Health Resort, located in Mumbai, is an Ayurvedic haven fostering wellness amid a bustling city. Designed by SJK Architects, this 5-storey structure stands on a compact 600 sq.m plot, skillfully maximizing Mumbai's regulations. The challenge was to infuse light, air, space, joy, and peace in a limited area while complying with regulations and achieving functionality.
The architecture embraces Ayurveda's essence, blending healing with light, air, and space. Facing monsoons, the design strategically opens the east facade with balconies and traditional chajjas, while the west facade is protected from harsh sun and rain. Crafted from natural stone, terracotta, reclaimed wood, and IPS, the palette reflects tradition and local materials, fostering warmth.
With a mere 8m wide rectangular footprint the building's configuration crafts layers of light-filled spaces. The verandahs offer respite and transition zones while echoing vernacular architecture. The structural frame, circular columns, and beams weave contemporary efficiency with traditional elements. Recycled wooden doors, windows, and columns imbue the space with a sense of history. Ayushakti's design illustrates that even within urban constraints, a holistic, nature-inspired space can thrive.
A world of Ayurveda within a tight urban setting
Ayurvedic Health Centre (Ayushakti Health Resort), Mumbai is a holistic Ayurveda-based wellness space, offering healing and treatment services within a restorative and calm environment. Ayushakti is a Mumbai based wellness practice, who desired to consolidate all aspects of ayurvedic treatments within a single building. The building was required to offer a restaurant, boutique, consulting rooms, OPD with waiting for a 100 people, treatment rooms, beauty parlour, health club and nursing rooms and a basement auditorium. In essence, the client brief requested ‘a world of Ayurveda’ embedded into one building to reflect the wealth of Indian traditional wisdom.
The site, located in a crowded suburb of Mumbai, was set on a long and narrow 6500 sq.m plot of land, hemmed in on all sides by residential buildings. The challenge was to build within all the regulations of Mumbai’s D.C. rules utilizing the available FSI of 1.0, and the narrow 16m width of the plot. The programmatic components were required to be accommodated within this tight setting, with an aim to create spaces for healing and rejuvenation.
Ayushakti's design illustrates that even within urban constraints, a holistic, nature-inspired space can thrive.
Mumbai city’s strict urban byelaws used to sculpt a climate friendly ‘box’
With a mere 4m side open space on both sides, the building had to be set within a tight 8m wide rectangular footprint. The key design decisions were based on the available space, and tackled by avoiding centrally loaded corridors, opening the building to the east with adjoining balconies. By stacking and layering floor plates and carving out the “box” like form, a 5 storeyed building accommodating all programmatic and functional requirements was achieved. In the context of site constraints, yet by using opportunities made available by suburban byelaws – over 13,000 sq.ft of built up space was carved out. Ayushakti Health Resort Architecture comprises public and leisure functions on the ground level, with specialized treatment, medical consultation rooms and residential rooms on the three upper floors. The cafe is located on the ground level within a stilted space, open to all sides and winds flowing through. The first floor holds consultation rooms & OPD waiting rooms, with an integral use of balconies to accommodate the large patient numbers. The second floor consists of all treatment rooms & spa, with balconies utilized as waiting spaces too. The top level has private nursing rooms, and the building is ‘stepped back’ to create a terrace garden for recreation.
Studying climate and context to create maximum useable space
The design scheme considered east-facing balconies which remain cool and filter air through, along with louvered doors allowing cross ventilation. To create the sense of an expansive, naturally ventilated and positive environment, the orientation and climatic factors were studied closely. Since the Mumbai monsoon is from the south– west, the east façade was opened up with balconies and traditional sloping chajjas, restraining the opening of the west façade. The east with its balcony seats and carved wood work remains protected and utilized for public living, whereas the west being more susceptible to the harsh afternoon sun, and the south-west monsoon is where a second skin, through which the number of services of the building run. A variety of openings are showcased on the distinctive facade, based on the internal use and juxtaposed to create balance and harmony.
The essence of Ayushakti’s Health Centre Architectural Design lies in the representation of ayurveda as a contemporary science rooted in Indian wisdom.
An identity for traditional science in suburban Mumbai : Representing Ayurveda
The articulation of this box through varied openings, balconies, setbacks and other architectural devices such as the traditional Indian “Jharokha” weave an illustrated narrative. The essence of Ayushakti’s Health Centre Architectural Design lies in the representation of ayurveda as a contemporary science rooted in Indian wisdom. A palette of natural, local and earthy materials reflect and respond to the essential traditional wisdom embedded in the healing practice. A handpicked mix of natural stone, terrazzo, antique and reclaimed wooden elements, terracotta roof tiles and IPS all together create a variety of spaces within this Ayurvedic Health Centre Architecture. In this Ayurvedic Health Centre’s Architecture and Interior, functional elements such as doors, windows and columns are recycled from dilapidated buildings from Gujarat. The recycled elements speak of the traditional, but their innate craftsmanship is soothing and enriching. Thick jambs, arched openings or a simple modular profile, are different design typologies used, to break the monotony. Therefore, in form and spirit, all typologies of spaces align with the inherent values of local, simple, warm and contextual. Across the floors, windows and openings play a significant role in modulating light, breeze and evoking a sense of (re)discovery, of the self and the environment.
Creating an atmosphere of healing, trust and joy
The circulation and transition spaces, both on the floor and across different levels are suffused with light, creating breathing spots across Ayushakti’s experience. The understanding of the specialized processes of ayurvedic practice, involving personal consultation and full-body therapy led to a detailed segregation of consultation rooms, doctors offices and spa or therapy areas. Being a fairly popular ayurvedic wellness centre, crowd management and segregation of residential and visiting patients was a priority while planning layout and visitor movement. Appropriate for Mumbai’s sweltering hot-humid climate, the all-embracing verandah or open balcony is used as a design tool, bridging different spaces while offering respite in transition. These semi-open spaces characterize Ayushakti’s Health Resort Architecture, bringing moments of pause and respite in the heady rush and tedium of being at a healthcare facility.
User experience design through spaces, elements and details
As an intelligent cultural cue to tackle the tedious task of waiting before consultation, the parapet walls of the first floor verandah outside the doctors’ rooms were crafted into seating niches, creating an interesting composite wall-section. The smoothness of IPS and the warmth of embedded wooden columns under the pitched timber roof evoke a certain nostalgia and familiarity, intended to put the visitor-patient at ease. The wooden battens on which terracotta roof tiles are laid are also references to vernacular architecture, a timeless and self-assured element which adds character to the facades. On rainy days, these spaces become a playground for cool breeze, while on hot summer days, they offer a shaded envelope. The building’s contemporary character makes its presence felt as a framework, through a system of twin circular columns and attached beams. All together, the structure and spirit of Ayushakti is woven with traditional elements within a contemporary, efficient frame, with an aim to serve the seeker of healing in the most comfortable way. For the doctors too, a small alcove or corner of contemplation and rest is designed, adjacent to the spiral staircase used for their direct entry or exit to the first floor. Across the building, artful hand painted murals of medicinal plants and herbs grace the walls. Handcrafted sculptures from Bastar tribes narrate imageries of daily rituals. Within this building designed by SJK Architects, resides a world of Ayurveda. Ayushakti Health Resort Architecture exhibits the possibilities of infusing life and light within spaces that heal, embedded with layers of craft and optimum functionality. Being a haven of healing, traditional wisdom and alternative practices, the human element in Ayushakti’s scale, space is apparent in the architecture and interiors. The importance of this building, perhaps, is that this quality and experience is possible within the tight constraints of urban life – we can build in harmony with the elements, and bring in the outside even when there is practically none!