Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

October 16, 2020 by  
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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond Elisa Niemtzow Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:00 Business as usual for the luxury industry is over. 2020 brings with it the end of a positive growth cycle, as analysts expect global luxury sales to contract 25-45 percent in 2020 , with a recovery that could take up to three years. And yet, the coronavirus pandemic, for all the havoc it has wrought on the industry, has pushed the sustainable business agenda even further, forcing business leaders to reevaluate their role in society and better articulate their value, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of corporate purpose and the way they contribute to the world.   Recent months have revealed several fragilities and also several strengths as the luxury industry navigates its future. Companies demonstrated the depth of their commitment and a certain financial resilience by shifting production lines to manufacture hand sanitizer and masks or forgoing government aid to demonstrate social solidarity. Brands have reimagined design and distribution of products in a context of lower sales volumes and digital acceleration. The crisis also has multiplied the insecurity of some workers and left some precious material supply chains, such as cashmere and exotic skins, even more vulnerable.   As luxury fashion brands adapt and survive in the “new normal,” they can drive a renewed vision of the luxury business that demonstrates how to decouple volume growth from value growth. They can seize opportunities to strengthen resilience and further set the example when it comes to long-term value creation, business transformation and progressive leadership. To drive innovation and demonstrate leadership in the years ahead, luxury leaders should consider these three opportunities: 1. Deepen luxury’s value proposition Luxury brands can deepen their value proposition by further embedding efficiency, sustainability and inclusion into business models and practices, building on the new approaches that the pandemic accelerated. Designers are streamlining collections, focusing on evergreen best sellers and incorporating upcycling, regenerative materials and use of dead stock (French) in collections. Meanwhile, digitization is accelerating efficiency and agility. Design teams are working together online and using virtual sampling. Showrooms and fashion weeks have gone digital. And brands are hurrying to transfer business to online outlets. Supply chain experts argue companies can make less product and increase margins as they reduce waste (via better inventory management), better connect supply and demand (via strengthened omni-channel programs) and optimize understanding of client needs and trends (via enhanced client data). For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial — less environmental impact, more financial resilience and, potentially, redistribution of investment across the supply chain to benefit primary raw material producers and workers upstream. For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Optimized distribution of value creation is important in a context where the pandemic has rendered raw material and manufacturing workers more vulnerable. For example, the Sustainable Fibre Alliance raised the alarm of COVID-19’s considerable consequences for the economic security and well-being of cashmere goat herding families. In the case of exotic leather, a controversial material prior to the pandemic according to animal rights activists, conservationists recently have raised their voice about the necessity of protecting the benefits to species, people and ecosystems generated by this trade. At the moment, luxury brands are still struggling to develop the business cases and financially support all of these actors. One promising mechanism to explore is a “reverse-sourcing” approach whereby value chain actors for a specific raw material pilot interventions to drive positive change and then connect the dots to create a traceable, sustainable supply chain. In one example, this approach allowed vulnerable suppliers who committed to improved environmental and social practices to broker a long-term contract with a global beauty company at a premium — enabling investment in long-term sustainability while the beauty brand achieved the security of a traceable, sustainable supply chain. Additionally, luxury brands can leverage sustainable finance mechanisms and growing investor interest in ESG to partner on long-term value creation. Following on the heels of Prada, Burberry, Moncler and other players outside the sector, Chanel made its first public offering on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in September. Its sustainability bond will support business transformation including raw material extraction, regenerative agriculture and innovation across its supply chain. This announcement is notable as it signals the emergence of a deeper value proposition and the importance of communicating this value to key stakeholders. 2. Build on luxury’s predisposition for circular and regenerative practices Over the last several years, the industry has adopted several circular economy initiatives, such as the CEDRE recycling platform  (French) initiated by LVMH, support for innovation via Fashion for Good and training designers on circular economy principles. Yet huge barriers still exist to scaling an efficient luxury fashion circular ecosystem — whether it’s closing the loop on certain product categories such as luxury leisurewear and sneakers, which have shorter lives than typical luxury items; acquiring sustainable, regenerative materials in sufficient quality and quantity (such as leather); or fully embracing the idea of producing fewer new items, including encouraging the multiple lives of products and brand-controlled secondhand markets (as Gucci has just done with The RealReal). Further, as luxury companies make their way in the “new normal,” there is a strong rationale to focus on the third leg in the circular economy stool: regenerating the natural and agricultural systems they rely on for their high-quality natural materials . With 60 percent of species and ecosystem functionality lost, the clock continues to tick. In 2021, the Convention on Biological Diversity will launch a new 10-year strategic plan with the Business for Nature coalition driving business support for policy changes and new targets. Additionally, late last month, an informal working group, Task Force on Nature-related Disclosure, was launched. The work will take several months but signals an expectation of increasing accountability for companies and investors related to their impacts on nature. Luxury brands are well-poised to demonstrate leadership on this and other aspects of the circular economy. Luxury brands also can explore two newer areas: first, assessing their performance against a comprehensive set of circularity indicators to focus on circular economy practices across entire operations and increase robustness of efforts. Second, brands can explore how to take a people-centered approach to circular fashion systems which ensure that as new infrastructure and business models are created, they are inclusive and fair for people from the outset. 3. Demonstrate socially progressive leadership As described above, in the urgency of initial responses to the coronavirus, luxury companies relied on their financial resources and business infrastructure to contribute to their workforce and local communities. Against the profound upheaval transforming our world, luxury leaders have significant opportunity to continue using this power to drive positive change. Doing so will help to preserve the social acceptance of luxury and create the stable operating environment needed by all businesses. Earlier this year, BSR published a report discussing five principles for business action to contribute towards creating a 21st century social contract that supports economic prosperity and social mobility. While the luxury industry can contribute to all principles, it is well-placed to focus on contributions to developing stakeholder capitalism, an approach to business strategy focused on long-term value creation and based on a multi-stakeholder model. Specific actions luxury companies can take include: ensure that corporate governance structures, including board and executive leadership, are inclusive and consider the interests and perspectives of all; pay their fair share of taxes; and align policy advocacy, participation in industry associations and monetary contributions with environmental and social objectives. What’s next Given luxury’s outsize influence on society, luxury brands and their leaders have significant opportunity to build on their efforts and demonstrate the behaviors we need to drive resilient and thriving societies. When will we see every luxury CEO’s bonus dependent on achieving Scope 3 climate targets, paying a living wage in supply chains and achieving zero product destruction? Thriving in the “new normal” will take nothing less than bold leadership such as this. Pull Quote For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off LVMH’s partnership with CEDRE centers on finding second-life uses for its products.

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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

Luxury apartments feature underground rec club and a massive green roof

July 22, 2020 by  
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The Excellenseaa 126 apartment complex is designed to create its own sustainable microclimate with a green roof and open spaces. Located in Surat, India, this luxury development houses 126 apartments within six 11-story buildings. Out of the 318,611-square-foot space, over 70% is landscaped, and the entire property centers around a large focal garden that stretches over 139,930 square feet. Apartments come in three different sizes, with layouts of up to five bedrooms and a private gym. About 80% of the plot is car-free , and vehicular movement is restricted to the complex’s perimeter and a basement car park available to residents. Each floor contains two apartments with a penthouse on top. Related: This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm One of the most impressive elements of this apartment complex is the design of its partially subterranean recreation club. The central garden sits on top of expertly landscaped angular planes with clean lines to add a touch of modernity to the organic elements. Take a closer look, and the garden is, in actuality, a green roof covering the complex’s partially submerged communal area. The club includes entertainment facilities, conference rooms, a grocery store, a medical center, multiple sports facilities and play areas for children of different ages. A variety of water features, trees and plants gives the entire space a natural feel while assisting in passive cooling . The green roof design helps to shelter the club from solar heat gain while simultaneously allowing natural ventilation and light to pass through. Apartments themselves are kept cool and sheltered by 900-square-foot cantilevered decks that help facilitate cross ventilation in the warm months. This aspect comes especially in handy, as the area experiences temperatures topping 95 degrees Fahrenheit for eight months out of the year. The complex also utilizes water recycling, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and solar paneling to reduce its carbon footprint . + Sanjay Puri Architects Photography by Mr.Abhishek Shah via Sanjay Puri Architects

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What Taco Bell’s menu changes mean for fast food-loving vegans

July 22, 2020 by  
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Taco Bell has some good news and some bad news for vegetarians. The company will eliminate its potato items, long a favorite among fast food-loving vegetarians and vegans, and add faux meat for an added veg  protein  option beyond beans. Like many restaurants this year — at least the ones still in business despite the  pandemic  — Taco Bell is streamlining operations and simplifying its offerings. Starting on August 13, the menu will be shorter. No more can people order a soft taco with potato, cheese, chipotle sauce and lettuce. But don’t think veg folks are being targeted. Other items on the chopping block include the grilled steak soft taco, 7-layer burrito, nachos supreme and the beefy Fritos burrito. In all, 12 menu items are headed for retirement. Related: Taco Bell launches new menu for vegetarians “We know some  vegetarian  go-to items might be gone, but Taco Bell’s menu remains highly customizable,” the company said in an announcement. “Don’t forget to lookout for the vegetarian symbol on menus to indicate vegetarian products, and remember you can swap out any protein for beans in any menu item.” Last year, Taco Bell unveiled a handy vegetarian filter on its website, allowing diners to customize dishes to be  vegan . At that point, the company gave plant-based meats a pass, relying on beans as its featured veg protein. But in February this year, CEO Mark King revealed that the fast-food chain has reconsidered. Executives have met with both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat and expect to introduce plant-based meat choices next year. “While change is hard, a simplified menu and innovation process will leave room for new fan favorites, continued progress in categories such as  plant -based diets, and even opportunities for the return of some classics on a limited-time basis,” the company stated.  Anybody remember enchiritos? Maybe it’s time for a comeback — vegan style. + Taco Bell Via VegNews Image via Mike Mozart

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What Taco Bell’s menu changes mean for fast food-loving vegans

Solar-powered luxury home celebrates contemporary style at Lake Huron

July 9, 2020 by  
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On the banks of Lake Huron in a remote Canadian town, South African architecture firm SAOTA completed a contemporary summer house that’s strikingly different from the region’s “cabin country” vernacular. Carefully sited to keep the design unobtrusive, the luxury residence maximizes connections to the outdoors with full-height glazing and a layout that optimizes lakeside views. Durable weather-resistant materials, energy-efficient systems and a 15-kW solar array help minimize the home’s environmental footprint to meet the project’s sustainability targets. Located about an hour’s drive from London, Ontario, the Lake Huron vacation home departs from the traditional, “somewhat conservative” homes that dot the lakeside with a contemporary design emphasizing clean lines, horizontal massing and a minimalist exterior palette featuring a ceramic-paneled system strong enough to withstand the extremes of the Canadian climate. Despite the home’s eye-catching appearance, the architects allowed the surrounding landscape to largely dictate the design; the building is set back on the property toward the street to preserve a natural bluff located between the lake and forest, while existing mature fir trees were retained to help screen the house from view. Related: SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously “The way in which the building is largely obscured from the street and in turn screens views of the lake helps build suspense on arrival, only to satisfy the sense of anticipation via the large pivot door,” the architects explained. “An indoor/outdoor volume to the south anchors the building and maximizes the site’s lakeside views while allowing the living spaces to occupy the foregrounds.” Full-height glazing fills the home with natural light while extended roof eaves protect the interiors from solar glare. For optimum building performance, a commercial-grade automation system was installed to control and monitor the home’s functions while the 15-kW solar array that powers the home feeds surplus energy to the grid for credit and later use. In addition to an Ecoflo septic system, an underground stormwater system capable of handling a 100-year storm was installed onsite as well.  + SAOTA Images via SAOTA

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Green-roofed Hive home opens and closes with the sun

July 3, 2020 by  
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Ahmedabad-based  Openideas Architecture  has completed Hive, an adaptable and sustainable family home that takes inspiration from nature in more ways than one. Located in Vesu, an up-and-coming area in Surat, Gujarat, the luxury home was commissioned by a client who sought to manufacture a flawless home inspired by his work with diamond industry machinery. Informed by extensive solar and site studies, the 600-square-meter residence’s name comes from its honeycomb-inspired facade embedded with solar sensor-based modules that open and close in response to lighting conditions.  When the client approached Openideas Architecture, he brought with him a nearly 90-point brief that covered everything from the structural materials and landscaping to sustainability needs and a year-long solar study. In response, the architects conducted an in-depth analysis of external temperature, humidity, solar radiation, cloud cover and wind pattern conditions that informed the creation of the V-shaped, metal-framed home, which opens up to greenery on multiple levels. In addition to a sunken court and stepped garden, the home features a walkable  green roof  with varying slopes and pockets of greenery dispersed throughout. The most eye-catching feature of the home is the  honeycomb-inspired  facade with a unique opening mechanism engineered to optimize sunlight exposure and thermal comfort levels inside the home. “Analyzed as per the structure, function and mechanism, its design is based on structural strength, transformability and biomimicry ,” noted the architects, who also took inspiration for the modules from the doors of airport buses. As the modules open and close, the sun creates changing patterns of light and shadow indoors.  Related: Honeycomb shading keeps Büro Ole Scheeren’s skyscrapers naturally cool in Singapore In contrast to the metal-clad exterior, the  open-plan  interior includes a mix of wood and stone that create a sense of warmth. As a continuation of the expressive facade, the indoor furnishings and structures feature strong geometric shapes and clean lines.  + Openideas Architecture Images by FABIEN CHARUAU

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Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment

June 3, 2020 by  
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Developed by Nomadic Resorts, these prefab suites provide the perfect opportunity for a luxury eco-vacation  pretty much anywhere. The Looper tented suites incorporate recyclable materials and renewable energy to bring customizable accommodation to isolated and environmentally sensitive wilderness areas — such as rugged yet beautiful Yala National Park in southeast Sri Lanka. The tents can be popped up in all types of environments from deserts to mountains and everything in between, and are  prefabricated  off-site to allow for quick and easy assembly, disassembly and relocation. Related: These colorful glamping pods are tucked into a South Korean mountain range The Looper suites were created to use as little material as possible while leaving a minimal physical footprint, a feat accomplished by steel arches and a recyclable, weather-resistant tensile fabric exterior meant to last decades. The modular pods accommodate 28 square meters worth of living area with a 14-square-meter bathroom. A wrap-around deck is elevated on stilts so that the surrounding natural elements, such as  wildlife  and small bodies of water, can remain uninterrupted. The openings are made with low-E double glazing and the indoor/outdoor living areas come equipped with sustainable PV panels and a  rainwater  treatment system. The solar elements can be customized to reflect the unique outside conditions or the client’s specific needs. Style was certainly not compromised in the design of these versatile eco-pods, with the addition of materials such as copper, brass, leather and teak wood to elevate the interior. There is a spacious four-poster bed inside the main air-conditioned sleeping area and a freestanding copper bathtub inside the open-style bathroom, so guests can enjoy private views of the  outside terrain . The Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Sri Lanka, where the pods first debuted, arranged 28 Loopers in the shape of a leopard paw print on a beachfront property. Four of the luxury tented villas feature private pools and smaller “urchin” pods are also available to be used by families with children. + Nomadic Resorts Images via Nomadic Resorts

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Prefab eco-pods offer luxury lodging in any environment

Robert De Niro and partners to open a garden hotel in Poland

May 29, 2020 by  
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If a glimpse into history is on your bucket list, a stay at the soon-to-open Nobu hotel in Poland can help put a check in that column. Decimated by World War II, the city of Warsaw originated in the 1300s and has been under meticulous reconstruction for decades. Blending the old with the new, historical architecture is balanced with nearby neighborhoods that are alive with trendy wine bars, art galleries and cafes. Joining the creative hub is the newest addition to the Nobu family of hotels being built by Nobu Hospitality, a globally established lifestyle brand owned by actor Robert De Niro, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and film producer Meir Teper. The heart of this capital city will be the site of the V-shaped hotel. Nobu Hotel Warsaw will feature 117 sleek and spacious rooms along with meeting and event spaces, an expansive fitness center and the signature Nobu Restaurant and café. “Nobu Hotel Warsaw is a really exciting project for us,” said Trevor Horwell, Chief Executive Officer of Nobu Hotels . “The luxury hospitality market has been gaining momentum in Warsaw for a while. There’s a certain type of energy that extends far beyond the bricks and mortar – we’re very excited to be at the forefront of this new wave of lifestyle and hospitality development – and being from Poland originally, this opening is particularly exciting for our co-founder Meir Teper.” While luxury and the location are undeniably enticing, the building design also represents a marriage of the historic with modern elements that feed a need to completely understand the multifaceted city. Half of the hotel is housed in what used to be the Hotel Rialto, a building dating back to the 1920s that represents Art Deco design elements. A lobby connects this sample of Warsaw’s past to the other wing of the hotel, an ultra-contemporary space designed in collaboration with Polish architectural firm Medusa Group and California-based Studio PCH. The outdoor space features a pyramid of balconies with living gardens for a contrast of green space to cityscape. Hotel Nobu Warsaw is one of 18 hotels by Nobu Hospitality spanning five continents, each offering premium service, unique design elements and an extraordinary culinary experience. The Hotel Nobu Warsaw is expected to open in August 2020. + Nobu Hotel Images via ?ukasz K?pielewski

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Solar-powered hotel on Grand Cayman features turtle-friendly lighting

April 30, 2020 by  
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Thankfully, the world is coming around to the fact that eco-friendly travel doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or luxury. As one of Kimpton’s latest sustainable properties, Kimpton’s Seafire Resort + Spa is leading the way for travelers who want to enjoy gorgeous locations while doing their part to protect the environment. Located on the beautiful Grand Cayman, the eco-resort was built with several green features, including solar power , LED lighting, recycled building materials, native plants and even turtle-friendly lighting. Located on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, the green hotel is the first of the Kimpton hotels built beyond the continental U.S. Perched on a slope overlooking the crystal-blue sea, the luxury property features 264 guestrooms, three distinct dining destinations, an 8,500-square-foot spa and two seaside pools all surrounded by gorgeous gardens. Related: Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows Although the aesthetics and the amenities of the beautiful hotel are sure to delight guests during their stay, it is really the hotel’s sustainable profile that makes the property stand out. While it is still considered a challenge to equip large hotel properties with proper eco-friendly features, the Seafire Resort manages to pack a punch when it comes to sustainability. In addition to using a 100,000-watt solar array to generate electricity, the hotel was built with several eco-friendly materials meant to reduce its impact. For example, guests walking or riding along the eco-resort’s many biking and walking trails will be happy to know that they are treading on a path made entirely out of recycled glass , which, according to the hotel, has diverted millions of glass bottles from local landfills. Additionally, the ample green spaces were planted with 32,000 individual plants , all native to the island and sourced from a local nursery. The gardens are irrigated through the hotel’s integral rainwater harvesting system. As part of its dedication to local wildlife, the hotel also boasts turtle-friendly lighting to prevent disrupting sea turtles’ journeys from land to sea during nesting season. The common areas and the guests rooms are all equipped with LED lighting. Additionally, small but effective measures have been put in place to help guests share in the responsibility of being more energy-efficient . Most of the guest rooms include private balconies, but as soon as the doors are opened, the geothermal air conditioning automatically shuts down, avoiding energy loss. + SB Architects Via Interior Design Images via Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa

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Solar-powered hotel on Grand Cayman features turtle-friendly lighting

A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

April 30, 2020 by  
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A constant connection to nature pervades the Home by the Park, a newly completed single-family residence that faces a park in the South Indian city of Hubballi. Bangalore-based practice 4site architects designed the house to engage views of the adjacent park from multiple floors and vantage points, while bringing the lush greenery indoors with the creation of a rain courtyard and landscaped terraces. The abundant plantings not only give the house a sense of tranquility but also create a cooling microclimate to counteract the region’s tropical climate . Commissioned by a nature-loving family, the Home by the Park adheres to the teachings of Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian system of architecture that champions the integration of architecture with nature and recommends spatial arrangements to improve the flow of positive energy. Located on a linear east-facing plot, the Vastu-compliant home spans 7,050 square feet across three floors, with the bottom-most floor partly buried into the earth because of the 3-foot change in elevation between the east and west sides. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India To visually connect the home to the adjacent park to the east, the architects inserted three gardens — the elevated front garden, the central rain courtyard and the rear private garden — so that all of the main rooms in the home enjoy access to nature. The centrally located rain courtyard is a double-height space open to the sky that serves as a light well and connects to the living areas on all floors. In addition to a variety of seasonal plants that provide year-round interest, the rain courtyard also features a sculptural fountain with a waterfall feature and has become haven for birds that nest in the trees and shrubs. The driveway, garage, storage room and home theater are located on the lowest floor. The next floor comprises the main living areas, including an expansive kitchen split into wet and dry sections; a guest en suite with a living room that connects to the rear garden; dining area; the master en suite bedroom; and the prayer room located opposite the rain courtyard. The top floor houses three additional bedrooms, a family living room, an outdoor terrace and a U-shaped walkway that provides views into the rain courtyard.  + 4site architects Photography by Petrichor Image Labs via 4site architects

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A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

April 30, 2020 by  
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A constant connection to nature pervades the Home by the Park, a newly completed single-family residence that faces a park in the South Indian city of Hubballi. Bangalore-based practice 4site architects designed the house to engage views of the adjacent park from multiple floors and vantage points, while bringing the lush greenery indoors with the creation of a rain courtyard and landscaped terraces. The abundant plantings not only give the house a sense of tranquility but also create a cooling microclimate to counteract the region’s tropical climate . Commissioned by a nature-loving family, the Home by the Park adheres to the teachings of Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian system of architecture that champions the integration of architecture with nature and recommends spatial arrangements to improve the flow of positive energy. Located on a linear east-facing plot, the Vastu-compliant home spans 7,050 square feet across three floors, with the bottom-most floor partly buried into the earth because of the 3-foot change in elevation between the east and west sides. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India To visually connect the home to the adjacent park to the east, the architects inserted three gardens — the elevated front garden, the central rain courtyard and the rear private garden — so that all of the main rooms in the home enjoy access to nature. The centrally located rain courtyard is a double-height space open to the sky that serves as a light well and connects to the living areas on all floors. In addition to a variety of seasonal plants that provide year-round interest, the rain courtyard also features a sculptural fountain with a waterfall feature and has become haven for birds that nest in the trees and shrubs. The driveway, garage, storage room and home theater are located on the lowest floor. The next floor comprises the main living areas, including an expansive kitchen split into wet and dry sections; a guest en suite with a living room that connects to the rear garden; dining area; the master en suite bedroom; and the prayer room located opposite the rain courtyard. The top floor houses three additional bedrooms, a family living room, an outdoor terrace and a U-shaped walkway that provides views into the rain courtyard.  + 4site architects Photography by Petrichor Image Labs via 4site architects

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