Right from the outset, Smaran Mallesh, Vikram Rajshekar and Narendra Pirgal — college mates at RV College of Engineering, Bengaluru, were clear about one thing: to establish a firm that would operate like a studio — a speculative practice. At Cadence Architects, which they founded in 2005, the spirit of speculation manifests itself into strategic processes that enable projects to transform/evolve from conceptual ideas to sophisticated finished products. This process-based rigour is laced with a certain sensibility to achieve new spatial and formal effects, a sensibility to transform existing lifestyles or spawn new ones. The initial projects were mostly interior design ones, tight on space and budget. “These helped us understand how to work with clients and contractors. We learnt early on that collaboration was key to realising projects,” they state.
Over the years, this design philosophy combined with an efficient management system and pragmatic approach has enabled the team to handle projects of varying scales, complexities and diverse typologies. Today, Cadence is able to accommodate greater climatic, economic and social constraints and incorporate futuristic visions of communities “to create neoteric environments that are deeply rooted in the local culture but portray a global outlook and trend.” The premise of their work is influenced by what the German philosopher Walter Benjamin says: Architecture is absorbed in a state of distraction. “Our interest in experience and effects is a counterpoint to this phenomenon. We believe that one can produce new experiences/effects when you question clichés. This whole process of identifying clichés in a certain build type and speculating alternate solutions and formulations is fundamental to our design process,” they explain.
Pirgal, Mallesh and Rajashekhar say that any architectural practice, which is speculative in nature and aspires to be a cultural practice, needs to be structured around specific architectural and cultural issues. “The practice needs to formulate its own set of techniques and with an idiosyncratic sensibility, conceive architecture that is culturally relevant,” they state. “This also implies that architects should not blindly follow ‘trends’ unless it contributes to the ’conceptual project’ of the firm.”

Looking Back

Every project at Cadence has augmented the collective wisdom guiding the practice. The principals vote for Elastica, an unusual home that challenged the norms of a conventional residence design. The client asked them to customise almost everything, with a brief that said, “nothing should look like anything they have ever seen.”

Looking forward

Team Cadence is very excited about Java Rain, a resort in Chikmagalur that is in the process of completion. It is their first hospitality project. The scenic setting and the design, which is fairly unconventional, make it an exciting prospect for them.

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