ON A HIGH

This single-storey residence breaks away from the usual linear architectural form to give its owners a rare structure that not only ensures privacy but also allows them to enjoy the surrounding greenery.

A bungalow’s structure plays a significant role in creating a strong identity. Generally, architects and designers like to keep the structures clean and straight-lined, especially when it comes to single-storey homes. Very rarely do we see a structure that breaks the usual norms and exhibits an interesting amalgamation of forms, shapes and patterns.

However, this home by architect Arpan Shah of Modo Designs does exactly that. It not only breaks the usual rules but also creates a strong dialogue with its outdoors.

Located in the arid city of Ahmedabad, this house is situated on a sprawling 36,000 sq ft plot with a built up area of approximately 5900 sq ft. Though the structure is single-storey, its most striking feature is its elevated cantilevered level that is supported by an artificial mound on one side, making it appear double-storied.

The owners in their brief to the architect were clear on wanting the public areas separate from the private ones. However, they did not want a double-storey house as that would cut down the communication channel between areas.

«When the owners came to me, they were clear on die kind of the areas they wanted and where each one would be. They didn’t have specific pinpointed demands but in terms of sizes of the rooms, style of interior designing, etc, they were lucid,» says Shah.

On the first look, the bungalow appears to be mysterious with its cantilevered exposed cuboid structure and the hidden entrance. The front yard is in cement and sand finished base that matches with the exposed concrete and white walls, thereby enhancing the overall appeal of the house. Shah is a firm believer of using natural elements and incorporating die same philosophy, he decided to keep the exteriors devoid of any artificial materials.

Shah adds, «The plot faces the main road and one of my biggest concerns while designing this structure was to keep its privacy intact. Thus, I have given only one large window on the road facing side. The rest of the structure does not reveal any of the interiors.»

When Shah took on this project, he was clear about using the vast plot to its full advantage. It had a series of palm tress around die periphery along with trees that were nearly 20 years old. After mutually agreeing with the owners, the architect chose to design a structure that would not only utilise the surrounding foliage but would also create a strong indoor-outdoor connection.

Even though the plot is large, the owners were not very keen to have a very elaborate landscape. Hence, Shah integrated subtle elements that were low on maintenance and added appeal to the outdoors. One of the things that he came up was the artificial mound. This also serves as a rear entry to the personal spaces of the residence. The mounds have been repeated at intervals to make for outdoor seating areas and to also act as barriers between the residence and the servant quarters. A swimming pool with a deck completes the landscape of this house.

«The interiors of the house are divided into three sections. The first section has the three bedrooms; the central one has transition areas, while the last section, that opens to die garden, has the formal living, dining, an informal seating area and a bedroom. We have also created courtyards and placed skylights at strategic points to bring die outdoors along with light into die residence,» says Shah.

As you come into the house, a veranda leads into a vestibule, which leads to die other areas within. This is the central area of the house with all the transition spaces. As the house is horizontally spread, this space bridges the dialogue between all the other critical areas. A skylight here brings in natural light in to the home. To to one side is a small staircase that leads to the master bedroom which overlooks the garden.

The living cum dining exhibits extensive use of wood. A semi-circular seating seamlessly divides the living from the dining. Full-length glass walls allow pool and garden views.

«I love using wood in my designs. Not only does it inject warmth into spaces but it is also durable, low maintenance and brings a traditional yet modern element. In this house, we have used it for the flooring, ceilings, furniture, panels and even in the bathrooms. We have used Burma teak for the windows and furniture. Customised veneers that resemble wood have also been used,» adds Shah.

The bedrooms and bathrooms have been designed by the owners. Each bedroom receives ample of natural light and thus artificial lighting is minimally used.

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