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The transformation of Pilibhit House into a luxury hotel is impressive. The limited space in and around the property has made it difficult to expand and provide additional infrastructure. “This was made even more difficult by the fact that the original structure was a load-bearing structure with limited span for vertical expansion. Being a century-old structure and close to the Ganges, there were also height restrictions. , there were issues such as humidity and water retention caused by the riverside location,” says Shankar.
The first stage of the restoration involved lengthy negotiations with neighbors and local authorities. A structural engineer was brought on board to assess the building. After a thorough audit and permission from local authorities, a meticulously detailed RCC frame structure was built, adding two more floors to the mansion. The brick walls received a quick facelift with plaster. Another structural challenge was to create additional space for facilities such as fire water tanks, HVAC system, sewage treatment plant, computer rooms, etc. After careful consideration, these were housed underground under the courtyard. This not only saved valuable real estate, but also moved the facilities beyond the eye of guests.
Infusing projects with vernacular design language is PSDA’s USP. “Most houses in Haridwar have these jali balconies. We just borrowed the design. It is our strength. The sandstone jali on the front facade of the building is actually modeled after the Ramnagar Palace in Varanasi. It frames the building beautifully,” says Shankar. For the exterior color of the building, the team stuck to a light orange hue. It is the traditional color of houses and temples in the Haridwar region. In addition, all materials and labor used in the restoration and construction came from the region.