Tanvi Sanghvi

Document Type





Fall 12-2015


architecture, sponge, porous, mass, container, contained, facade




Architectural History and Criticism | Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis | Other Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


This thesis contends that the separation and distinction between the envelope and the mass in contemporary architecture is to be resisted. Architect and theorist, Greg Lynn, argues that mass “is not only the outward shape of a building; it’s also the projection of shape, plan organization, spatial and sectional type, and façade”1.This critical reevaluation of the mass, and its relationship to the interior spaces and the building’s face, is particularly pertinent to the modern construction in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. The character of the historicist and postmodern buildings that make up Jaipur is made solely based on the applied façade. This capstone argues that this strategy does not work at the building scale because it simply becomes an act of surface creation that does not impact the space beyond. Additionally, at the urban scale, the applied façade is an even weaker strategy with rigid boundaries that does not capitalize on the inherent richness of the urban grain.

Rajput architecture, typical of Jaipur, used extravagance to project power and elevated the façade, an element of exclusion and inclusion, to reflect the social distinctions of the Kachwaha dynasty of Jaipur. Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Wind, is a prime example in that it serves as a screen for the court women to visually engage in the urban activities through its 953 jharokhas or windows but restricts physical interaction. This proposal learns from and updates Hawa Mahal’s conceptual, literal and socio-political thickness by challenging the role of the observer and the observed. Using the ideas of massing put forth by Lynn, this capstone reimagines the potential of a new type of architecture based on ‘sponge logics’ that transcends the established Rajput thresholds, enabling a more inclusive experience, indicative of the current society of Jaipur. The Hawa Mahal, acting as a screen, privileged the observer but sponge logics challenges the relationship between the observer and observed, mirroring the changing social dynamics of contemporary Jaipur.

While a sponge can be identified autonomously, the lack of distinction between the mass, the structure and the façade make it part of an endless field condition that absorbs and transforms what is around it. The overall mass of a sponge is “an elaboration of conditions established locally” that can filtrate through the dense urban fabric of Jaipur.2 Doing so allows the street life of the city to filter in and the building life to filter out by sponge logics that identify the potential of a porous building to contribute to the enrichment of an already packed urban environment.


local input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.