Architecture BRIO engages actively in the creation of contextually appropriate, sustainable design solutions within an increasingly changing world.
The work of the studio addresses new ways of understanding the often contradictory interrelations between the city, architecture, landscape, and the world of interiors. There is a growing need for our built environment to re-establish healthy relationships with the natural world. Similarly there is an urgency to address the never before seen growth in urban and rural areas in India and globally. Within this context, the work searches for a delicate balance between architecture as the act of disappearance, and creating characterful, responsive and experiential environments.
Architecture BRIO was set up in 2006 and now operates from offices in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and Mumbai (India). Over the years the studio has thrived with an energetic team of architects led by Shefali Balwani (C.E.P.T, Ahmedabad) and Robert Verrijt (Technical University of Delft).
The seed of Architecture BRIO was planted in Sri Lanka, where the founders met in the early start of their life as architects. They immersed themselves in the tremendous body of work by the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. His work is often situated in the most breathtaking, but sensitive environmental settings. His interventions are nonetheless bold and often extreme.
Contradictorily, this does not lead to a domination and submission of its surroundings. This duality, explored within the context of a drastically changing world, has become one of the main themes in the work of the practice. The studio strongly believes that architecture should remain a backdrop to life rather than taking centre stage.
Over ten years later, Architecture BRIO’s work field spans a vast variety of cultures, climates and landscapes across the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. The project portfolio has an emphasis on residential design of private houses and weekend homes where the architectural challenge and the opportunity to innovate is extensive. However the studio brings more and more their hands on experience and attention to detailing to hospitality, educational, humanitarian design , as well as cultural and institutional projects. An architectural project is never an isolated exercise. Therefore interior design and landscape design are natural extensions of the practice and often core services for projects as well.
Each project is seen as a challenge. But it also is an opportunity to uncover the unique characteristics of these specific conditions. It becomes an opportunity to investigate which intervention has a potential for positive change. We often ask ourselves which approach can have an impact on the way we deal with our natural and built. However appropriateness is not necessarily the most self evident. Often an inherent conflict between the context and climate of a project and its chosen typological and functional approach, generates solutions that unexpectedly turn out to be favourable solutions
Over the past decade the Dutch-Indian firm has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards, such as Archiprix, Europan 2008, World Architecture Community Awards. In 2014, they were awarded the “Best Practice in India” at the Trends Excellence Awards 2014. The studio was selected amongst the “AD100“, the Architectural Digest India list of the most influential designers in India and South Asia in 2014, and from 2016 to 2022.
The project House on a Stream won the award for the best residential design at the NDTV Home Design of the Year Awards 2013. the Trends Excellence Awards 2014. the JKC Architecture of the Year Award 2015. Casa Brio received the award for the Best Residential Interior at the NDTV Architecture & Design Awards of 2015, and the IIID Awards 2017. The Riparian House was awarded the JK Architecture of the Year Award 2017. It also featured on the Merit List 2016-2017 and received the Institute of Indian Interior Designers Awards in 2017. The house was featured in the architectural BBC / Netflix documentary “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes”. The collaborative project “BillionBricks Homes“ received high accolades at the regional and global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction last year.
The practice works with a thorough understanding of Architecture and its related fields. It seeks to develop design as its core strength and primary focus. An energetic team of around 30 architects works intensively with engineers, consultants, designers and the client. In this multidisciplinary approach it welcomes new insights that can lead to specific innovative solutions. It believes strongly in design as a process with an intensive dialogue. It uses models, both physical and virtual, as tools for communication between clients, engineers and architects. This encourages programmatic and engineering concepts to be fully integrated into the design right from the conception.
Architecture BRIO works on a broad range of projects both in the public and private realm. We enthral in jumping from the extreme of the tiny scale of an architectural dollhouse to designing masterplans or thinking on complex issues such as homelessness.
The studio thrives in this wide variety and scales of its projects. Regardless of a projects scale, a common basis of the practice is its commitment to exemplary planning, design and execution. We approach a design brief in an open and explorative manner. We start by asking the right questions, before arriving at a common standpoint. This common point of departure then acts as a clear concept, which guides the design process.
Architecture BRIO actively engages with research and seeks out collaborations with institutes and organisations. The principles lecture regularly in India and abroad and have thought at the KRVIA school of Architecture, and the Balwant Sheth School of Architecture in Mumbai.
With billionBricks, an NGO committed to eradicate homelessness, they set up a dedicated studio called Bb-Studio. The innovation design studio is dedicated to eradicate homelessness. The studio also consults with communities, NGOs and governments to provide scalable high-quality buildings and infrastructure solutions.
As part of the Bandra Collective, the firm is involved with research and design of public space in the city. The group of architects, all living or working in Bandra share design resources and ideas that could benefit life in their neighbourhood.
Aesthetics, technological and environmentally friendly innovativeness are the corner stones of its guiding philosophy. Creating solutions for a context where scarcity affects architecture in multiple dimensions is an inherent part of its design philosophy. The acceptance of scarcity, whether it is in terms of the availability of materials and energy, building time, skilled labour, financial scarcity or restrictions due to remote locations of projects, is a tool to drive innovation. Architecture BRIO’s approach to tackling these constraints is to search for smart solutions. The solutions should not only solve but also resonate the complex problems from which they arise in the first place.
The practice believes that there is a need to promote rapid, widespread acceptance of sustainable solutions. However, the challenge is to generate fresh ideas that carry out self-sufficient systems at scale. The potentials of new building techniques, re-appropriating materials in an effective and durable way, and intelligent energy concepts should be uncovered and integrated in an innovative way in architecture. With energy reduction and sustainability as a starting point the practice attempts to create innovative and exciting architecture. BRIO, much like the name, is about buildings that give energy both literally and metaphorically. It is therefore about inspiring and make people happy.