Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Courtyard House in Bangalore, India by Abin Design Studio
September 25th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Abin Design Studio
We first met our client, Mr. TG Sathyanarayanan, when he lived in Thailand. He had been abroad for many years and he came across as a person updated on a modern lifestyle. When he decided to move back to India, we proposed a concept for his villa – one that was ‘rooted’ and connected to the soil. His appreciation for the same revealed to us his very Indian ethos.
His needs and wants put forward an interesting mix of tradition in a modern setting. Since then, there was no looking back. His requirements were modest, and his trust in us – unlimited, giving us freedom in design. Vaastu compliance was an important factor for him, and this was taken into consideration from the very beginning. The site is part of a developed housing community in the outskirts of Bangalore. The city has very pleasant weather, almost round-the-year, which we tried to bring into the home through natural light and ventilation. Its surroundings being rather unremarkable, the USP of the house needed to, thus, come from the house itself. Massing of the building was important and simplicity essential.
A courtyard was planned as the focal point of the house and we built all other spaces around it. A taller mass was planned south of the courtyard to ensure a shaded and accessible open space. The Northern side of the courtyard had a slightly shorter mass with an elongated slab exposed by virtue of balconies and terraces. This balance of the two masses created a simple, modern, interesting form – in line with our philosophy for the home. The two masses on either side of the court are connected with just a narrow passage. This sky lit passage is completely glazed on one side and has a wall of vertical fins on the other. It boasts views on either side providing uninterrupted continuity of the greens and water bodies through this passage into the house, interweaving the indoor spaces with the landscape continuously. “A building is complete only when people start living in it”, but the movement of light and shade through the house had begun to breathe life and warmth into the home welcoming its users in.
A free-flow of spaces into one another and in-and-out of nature is the highlight of the house. Inside, the living spaces look across the water court to the large volume of the dining area and further to catch a glimpse of the master bedroom on the first floor. Indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly connected across greens and blues, through stone and glass and across different levels. One is always part of the house in its entirety as the edges of disparate spaces are subtly blurred. Amidst the lush green outdoors, this transparency among spaces, the multiple balconies and courtyards help one enjoy the beautiful Bangalore weather.
Landscape has been designed to look organic and inherent to the site. As the trees grow and the building ages, built-and un-built will become more and more indistinguishable and graceful. Soft mounds, grassy lawns and trees in a variety of scales, colours and scents, make the outdoors inviting in every climate. Additionally, the water bodies with their lilies and fish are imagined to be abuzz with understated movement. The small water cascade at the north-western corner provides the freshness of the sound of water coming subtly from a distance. The elusive textures in the various perceivable dimensions create an exquisite recluse for the family.
The design of the staircase evolved from the concept of connecting to the soil. The staircase springs from a solid granite base with steps carved into it while the rest of the flight complements it by virtue of its minimalistic design – a unique combination of solid and sleek – giving way to a truly contemporary stairway. This is set against a screen of slender vertical fins that continue to form the skylight above. The modern design and traditional stone, the rooted base and lofty flight make it quite a vivid combination. A bold red handrail and expressive sculptures add drama to the staircase. To the outsider, the view across the water body is enigmatic as the fins reveal ‘hit-and-miss’ glimpses of the inside, making one look twice! We were thrilled to employ locally available Sadarahalli granite and have tried to use it in various finishes and combinations across the home.
The entrance foyer was intended to merge seamlessly with the living room demarcated only through a translucent screen. But when we came across a beautiful antique door, we knew just the right spot for it. It was wonderfully symbolic at the foyer and gave the right balance of tradition that we were looking for to reflect our client’s inherent philosophy of life. The door paired beautifully with an antique bell that hung right next to the very contemporary crafted wooden door.
Along with the antique door we have also used a delicately carved wooden pillar with fascinating proportions. It was fixed onto a carved granite base in an off-centre alignment in the dining room along the corridor. Along with the solid wood dining table and bench it lent warmth and character to the space while the modernity of transparent acrylic chairs and a larger than life wire-frame chandelier complemented traditional gestures. The interiors and furniture pieces were planned to be simple and fuss-free, looking effortless in its place. Black seamless mirrored units are combined with hand-carved wooden tables, sleek console tables with folk-inspired rugs, minimalistic sofas with graphic art printed cushions.
The combination of these elements was designed especially for our client, given his background and lifestyle, to encompass an ideal balance of modernity and tradition. Printed MDF panels were used in many locations. Starting from the large print of the grandfather tree to the smaller Ikat inspired patterns, we used a variety of these panels to enliven simple pieces of furniture.
The elegance of the design of this home lies in its simplicity. The freedom we had while designing was liberating. We thought of it, as always, like idealists (it’s as if we never learn!). As architects we are often disheartened by practicality and have learnt to fight for our way around it. But the brilliant structural consultant on the project has made a whole lot of dreams extremely real! The entire process in designing and building this humble home has re-instilled in us an unabashed design philosophy.
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