One of India’s most important research laboratories is located in Hyderabad. The new LaCONES (Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species) building is the product of observation of the location by Shirish Beri, an architect from Kolhapu, with a special focus on sustainability.
The form of the project is a direct result of the layout of the area, containing a series of vertical rocks of great enigmatic beauty; the client naturally wanted a building worthy of the institute’s “noble” purpose of studying and protecting species in danger of extinction.
Shirish Beri works on the basis of the conviction that architecture must fit into the landscape with the utmost respect. In Hyderabad this meant keeping the site intact while adding a construction that would underline the topography of the site, with the superb rocks at its centre. At the same time, it was essential to build a construction with low emissions, a goal achieved through a series of measures for recovering and conserving energy.
The high rocks form a circle around the edges of the lot which the client had purchased to build the research laboratory. After visiting the site, the architect suggested that the client also buy the adjacent lot to permit construction of a building with the layout he had in mind: a complex arranged around the rocks, which would form its centre.
Shirish Beri considers the work of man a product of the work of nature. And so the rocks become a portal providing access to the building’s entrance. Underlining the topography of the site, they are set in a sort of natural amphitheatre which slopes down to the entrance door, where a stone floor forms an open space in which to stop, sit down and enjoy the spectacle of nature.
The “amphitheatre” is embraced all around by the volume of the building itself, which is semi-circular in shape, and the spaces that follow its course. Its irregular composition, with curved walls and an asymmetrical course following the site’s natural shape, is achieved through a concrete structure combined with walls and cladding made of brick and local stone taken directly from the soil below it. The glass that underlines the curved walls with its uninterrupted surfaces allows the dialogue with the landscape to continue inside the building.
The complex’s technical installations include a wastewater treatment system and collection of rainwater for irrigation. The local microclimate does not require major use of resources for air conditioning as the project makes use of natural ventilation.
Abdul Kalam, the well-known and much-loved “president of the people” of India at the time, inaugurated the project and called it a building of rare beauty, a symbol of the efforts of science to support nature.
Design: Shirish Beri
Project Team: Sikandar Nadaph, Milind Ranadive
Client: Centre for Cell & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (CSIR); D.B.T (Department of Biotechnology), Delhi; C.Z.A (Central Zoo authority), Delhi; A.P. forest department
Location: Hyderabad (India)
Structural design: Beri Architects & Engineers Pvt. Ltd
Total usable floor space: 4200 m2
Lot size: 25,760 m2
Project start date: 2002
Completion of work: 2005
Builder: Shree Balaji Engineers & Contractors
Reinforced concrete structure
Outer cladding of brick and Indian kotah stone