impasto building workshop has unveiled its intervention at the goreshwar mahadev temple situated on the banks of moran river in rajasthan, india. deeply influenced by the historical and socio-cultural context of the location, the architects have reconstructed the temple precinct, to guide the numerous devotees safely towards the shivling (the most popular symbol associated with the worship of lord shiva in hinduism) that extends towards the river, guiding them through a spiritual experiential journey.
the project by impasto building workshop revolves around the idea of creating an experiential space, leading visitors from the upper level of the temple to the river bed, while incorporating pause points that encourage social and environmental interaction. the design seeks to provide continuity between past and present, introducing the use of local materials and traditional techniques to the new construction.
the construction began with cleaning and silting the river, before anything else. during this process, it was found that the shivling, sitting 6.5 meters below ground level, is based on a huge river bedrock that coould not be damaged, so as to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the temple and the shivling itself. therefore, along with the rock foundation, the designers also installed a robust concrete base slab around the shivling, to sustain the frequent flooding of the river.
a semi-circular, wide platform is built over a 23 cm (9”) thick, low height, concrete protection wall, allowing the devotees to walk and perform the rites safely, while having an unobstructed view of the river. the construction of a submersible causeway at the lower level, and the holes at the bottom of the protection wall, help maintain the natural flow of the river.
the transition from the land to water is covered with steps, which is an important part of indian traditional architecture, as seen in the step wells of rajasthan and gujarat or on the ghats of banaras. the interaction between people and the water due to the changing water levels gives numerous opportunities of creating various pause points on the steps through platforms and ‘otlas’ round trees or creating patterns in steps that become activity generators.
the involvement of traditional craftsmen and techniques helped resolve fundamental issues of cost, material procurement and project duration, and also brought in a sense of belonging among the locals. the design is an attempt at generating an inclusive environment that respects the history of the area, as well as the aspirations of the users.