ZED Lab wraps hostel building with 'Brick Jali,' cuts down solar radiation by 70%
Andre J. Fanthome         

ZED Lab wraps hostel building with 'Brick Jali,' cuts down solar radiation by 70%

Sachin Rastogi, founder and director of Zero Energy Design Lab (ZED Lab) believes in incorporating Indian vernacular design elements with the latest technology to deliver passively cooled sustainable buildings. The Delhi-based firm creates solutions for improving the stakeholders' quality of life in symbiosis with nature through research, design, and construction.

St. Andrew boy's hotel building aims to create a sense of community through a fluid sequence of socially functional and environmentally conscious spaces. Located in Gurugram, west of the Indian capital city of New Delhi, where temperatures constantly pushed north of 40-degree Celsius during the summer months. In such conditions, escape from the heat and the need for shading becomes paramount.

Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 

ZED Lab used computational design to wrap the hostel building with one of a kind brick façade. The organisational logic takes clues from the Indian vernacular architecture, where layering of spaces and passive cooling strategies creates a comfortable environment all year long.


"Anticipating the importance of student interaction with the spaces, the landscape around and amongst themselves, the galactic indoor spaces are design extensions of the exteriors." Explains ZED Lab.


"The building's layered interior planning with passive design strategies facilitates comfortable intercommunication amongst the students."

Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 

The hotel block, which accommodates about 360 students, has been designed using two primarily humble construction materials. The restrained material palette consists of fair-faced concrete exposed in the building's exoskeleton and the locally available brick. The façade not only reduced the construction cost but also helped in lowering the carbon emission during the construction of the building.

The building form creates shaded communal space on the ground floor, which becomes the main entry point. Referred to as Summer court, it is shaded from the heat and provides a stimulating experiential area for students. The Studio wanted to develop transitional spaces to promote discussions, socialise or provide privacy among students.

"The landscaped ramp located within the summer court acts as a transition space between the harsh outdoor and relaxed indoors protecting students from getting a thermal shock. This ramp leads to the light-filled cafeteria reinforcing the university's focus on generous spaces for students to interact at a larger scale," said ZED Lab.  
Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 

"The serendipitous creation of the winter court on the first floor in the north direction enables one to enjoy the weather during a summer evening and winter afternoons."

The building layout has a central atrium which allows natural light to penetrate deeper into the dorms. It also helps with air circulation through the building, allowing hot air to escape through its roof as it rises.

The hostel block's distinctive façade was designed to improve daylighting inside the dorms while cutting down solar radiation. The Jali or the perforated brick façade was analysed using a parametric script. Direct and diffused radiation levels on the exterior façade informed brick's composition and rotation angle in the façade.

"The Jali façade has 1" thick steel bars fixed on R.C.C beams using Hilti chemicals. To hold the brick arrangement, a single piece steel bar pierces through the customised bricks manufactured with holes, no cement mortar used to construct the 21 feet long Jali envelope," said the Studio.

The overall direct radiation was reduced by 70% throughout the building through extensive research and testing, thus reducing the carbon emissions from mechanical cooling.

ZED Lab | Floor plans and section.
ZED Lab | Sustainability diagram.
Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 


Andre J. Fanthome 
Andre J. Fanthome 




Typology: Commercial design/ Housing – Hostel            
Name of Project: St. Andrews Institute of Technology and Management – Boys’ Hostel Block      
Location: Gurugram, Haryana               
Name of Client: St. Andrews Group
Principal Architect: Zero Energy Design Lab       
Design Team: Sachin Rastogi and Payal Seth Rastogi                  
Site Area: 60,700 sq. m
Built-Up Area: 5,575 sq.ft.
Start Date: Dec 2015   
Completion Date: 2017
Photographer: Andre J. Fanthome                      


About Zero Energy Design Lab

ZED Lab is a Delhi-based, research-driven, architecture and interior design studio specializing in net-zero energy buildings since 2009. With sustainability at the core of its design process, and architecture as its synthesis, ZED Lab works towards improving the quality of life in symbiosis with the environment through the holistic lens of research, design, and construction. Through its award-winning projects across residential, hospitality, institutional, commercial, and industrial sectors, the studio seeks to push the envelope for economically viable building systems, optimized for energy savings.

As vision facilitators, idea generators and design integrators, ZED Lab work collaboratively to formulate strategies that draw inspiration from the Indian vernacular for present and future needs. ZED Lab’s design approach is informed by a deep and innate understanding and application of age-old bioclimatic wisdom, using cutting-edge technological tools such as parametric design. Through climatic studies, simulation models, custom software, and physical experiments, the studio explores every facet of design that goes on to determine the nature, shape, and impact of a project, making it uniquely positioned to deliver long-lasting and resilient solutions.