Until the 1970s, apartments were not common in Ahmedabad as land prices did not necessitate high-density development. In the early ’70s, however, the city began to change. A few private apartments began to appear and then, in 1976, the Urban Land Ceiling Act imposed a limit on individual land holdings. It froze the supply of land and resulted in a rapid increase in land prices. This spurred the construction of apartments in Ahmedabad. Hasmukh Patel argued that row houses were a better alternative where lower density living was not financially viable. But in keeping with the change, he designed several apartments in high-value areas of Gujarat’s cities, where row houses would not have been feasible. These apartment schemes were often mixed-use developments. Shopping centres were conjoined with the apartment towers to make optimal use of prime sites in order to maximise profitability. The two functions were not seen as naturally compatible in Ahmedabad, and Patel used a variety of formal and organisational strategies to enable their peaceful co-existence.
The shopping centre occupies the foreground, but it is the apartments which still catch your eye from the crossroads. Three linked towers, punctured by a pattern of double height terraces and domestically scaled balconies, recede rhythmically from the junction. They are top-heavy buildings, the upper most penthouse apartments extending beyond the profile of the building below. A fourth tower is set back abruptly from the diagonal. This last tower, which was originally intended to be residential, was changed to offices at a late stage and was not built to Patel’s original design.
Each apartment opens to a view of a double height hall. This floor accommodates the living and dining areas and the kitchen. There is an open staircase at the side of the void. Going down one flight takes you to a bedroom, up one flight to another bedroom and up yet another to the master bedroom with an attached study. The flights going up overlook the living and dining space. The double height balcony allows a diagonal view to the sky from the interior of the room. This is a simple but essential contrast with many typical apartments, in which views extend only horizontally to the walls and windows of neighbouring buildings.