Como Agua Restaurant
Ideal Concepts, Narayan, Orville Dsouza
Nilkanth Kerka, Sagar Astekar
Mandar Pounikar, Lionel Alphonso
Siddharth Kamat, Sandeep Govenkar
Restaurants & Bars
The project was conceived as a bird’s nest perched on top of a hill in a forest. The intention was to explore what it’s like to dine in an overgrown, enlarged weaver’s nest on a hill surrounded by lush tropical paradise.
Located on Vagator Cliff overlooking the sea in North Goa, India, this restaurant and bar was a challenge to build and execute. The entire structure was built sustainably, from the construction techniques to its building materials.
The project has been primarily built using bamboo and a repurposed wild shrub, Lantenna Camara. The latter is an invasive species of plants widespread in the Western Ghats, which affects agriculture, forest growth, wildlife, and tribal livelihood every year.
By repurposing this wild invasive species and using it as a building material, the project displays innovative building practices using biological materials while creating emphasis on antenna removal, use, and restoration.
Lantenna Camara has been listed as one of the ten worst invasive species in the world. It has invaded over 40% of the Western Ghats, a total of 13 million hectares of Indian landscape. Arriving in India as an ornamental plant in the early 1800s, lantana has escaped from gardens and taken over entire ecosystems.
Multiple hybrid varieties of lantana were brought to India (predominantly by the British), and over the 200 years of its introduction, the varieties have hybridized and formed a complex.
The species is now able to climb up the canopy as a woody vine, entangle other plants by forming a dense thicket, and spread on the forest floor as a scrambling shrub. Lantana is mainly dispersed by fruit-eating birds, monkeys, bears, etc., but it also has the capability to grow from its root stock and nodes.
This results in widespread growth. The aggressive Lantenna growth affects biodiversity, livelihoods, and human & animal health. This widespread growth displaces native plants which then forces wildlife to migrate or starve. This leads to more human-wildlife conflicts as they flee to nearby human settlements and raid farms and villages for food.
Lantenna reduces the productivity in pastures through the formation of dense thickets, which reduces the growth of crops and makes harvesting more difficult. It significantly slows down the regeneration of forests by preventing the growth of new trees. The dense growth of lantenna also affects the lifestyle and livelihood of tribal communities living in these regions.
The invasive species have made it exceedingly difficult for them to access the forest to forage for edible tubers and collect firewood. All these alarming issues and threats expose the imminent danger caused by Lantenna growth, highlighting its eradication and the urgency of finding new innovative methods of Lantenna removal/restoration.
The design is heavily inspired by forms found in natural environments. We were fascinated by the wild women's nests of weaverbirds. The weavers are social birds, usually nesting and feeding in colonies. They collect all sorts of natural materials like twigs, fibers, and leaves for weaving a membrane that acts as their nest, usually hanging from the branch of a tree.
Materials used for building nests include fine leaf fibers, grass, and twigs. Many species weave very fine nests using thin strands of leaf fiber, though some, like the buffalo weavers, form massive untidy stick nests in their colonies, which may have spherical woven nests within. We wanted to explore the experience of dining within and around a weaver’s nest.
Like the weaver, we also foraged into the forests of the Ghats to collect wild Lantenna and weave them to create spatial structures for the space. The top deck of the restaurant houses two nests where one can sit and dine while enjoying the view of the sea and beach.
On the ground floor, an undulating membrane of lantenna wraps the bar and pizza counters and houses a wooden bench in between, which becomes a cozy corner for a small family to come for dinner.
The wire mesh lamps all over the space lighting up the tables are also inspired by hanging nests found in trees. These lamps hang at different heights, creating a whimsical, warm vibe mimicking the organic nature of their biological counterparts found in forests.
REPURPOSING NATURAL MATERIALS
The repurposed Lantenna from the forests of the Western Ghats were brought to site to cut, trim and then bent to wrap around metal mesh structures creating a skin/membrane. This membrane was used to create railings, compound wall partitions, nest-like structures, facades, and canopies.
We worked with Bangalore-based company Bamboopecker, who helped source the Lantenna and also execute the bamboo and lantenna works in the project. Bamboo, which is native to the region, has been extensively used for structure and façade treatment.
Bamboo of varying thicknesses and sizes were first treated with saltwater and then used in the space. We recycled local wood pieces to create custom patterns for the bar countertops and façade. Even the outdoor built-in benches were made using reclaimed pieces of Matti wood.
Indian Kota stone was used for the interior flooring. Larger Kota stone slabs of varying polished and colors (rough to smooth) were cut into thinner pieces and then laid on site to interlock with the outdoor wooden deck. Locally available Matti wood is used to make all the furniture and the outdoor decking.