For Telugu Medium in Hyderabad, India Sona Reddy Studio references the local vernacular

Deccan Decor

pink plaster walls inside Telugu Medium

Hyderabad is India’s fourth-largest city and a major southern capital of technology and culture. Located on the Deccan Plateau, its warm, inland climate has also inspired a beautiful vernacular architecture—one that local architect Sona Reddy Studio sought to emulate in a new, buzzy restaurant called Telugu Medium.


outside building of Telugu Medium
For Telugu Medium the designers chose brick, a local building material. (Pankaj Anand)

Cofounders Malvika Rao, Anil Karnati, and Rohit Medisetty brought on Sona Reddy to create a unique and immersive experience for guests that invokes the heart of the city’s vibrant culture. What’s most striking about the new 5,200-square-foot dining space is its creative and varied use for a local building material: brick. Employing forms from barrel vaults to free-standing arches, the spaces are porous and warm, working with rather than against the local climate.

inside the dining space
Architectural features such as barrel vaults and free-standing arches make the interiors welcoming. (Pankaj Anand)

All these domes and vaults sit on load-bearing walls. This choice to recall traditional building practice is not only an homage to Deccan vernacular, but also a sustainable move: these techniques minimize the building’s use of concrete and steel, materials that require arduous extraction of resources and bring with them a significant carbon footprint. By contrast, the bricks and mortar used here are natural, local, and of course biodegradable.

brick ceiling and pink plaster walls
The indoor dining areas feature pink lime plaster-washed walls and textured tandoor flooring. (Pankaj Anand)

Local material practices are on display on the restaurant’s exterior, featuring exposed Karimnagar bricks. And within, pink lime plaster-washed walls and textured tandoor flooring enliven the restaurant’s interior with natural finishes created by skilled craftsmen. The furniture extends this sentiment, designed and chosen with timelessness in mind. The forms are all meant to evoke the material palette of the space as well as the work of South Indian artisans.

outside dining space at Telugu Medium
A beautiful outdoor dining patio spills out from the indoor dining space. (Pankaj Anand)

A focal point of the interior is a sculptural spiral staircase that brings guests to an upper-level atrium with fluted-glass fenestration. But the ground-level literally grounds visitors in the subtle ripples and whispers of a courtyard reflecting pool. The space also hosts an impressive pink granite bar—another local material. This main floor also spills out onto a beautiful outdoor dining patio on the north side of the site to connect guests and architecture alike with the surrounding natural environment. Soft canopies interface with more unique brick fins, and punched windows offer visual and environmental connections to the interior.


the staircase
A sculptural spiral staircase is a focal point of the restaurant design. (Pankaj Anand)

reflecting pool at Telugu Medium
A large reflecting pool offers a moment of tranquility. (Pankaj Anand)

The restaurant is a fresh take on vernacular spirit that doesn’t romanticize a too-distant past, but effortlessly blends the old and the new of this ancient city. The pluralistic design language matches the excellence and complexity behind the gastronomy.