From the outset, the initial proposition had been intriguing, not merely considering the status of the client as an Indian Fiction Author, but rather a result of the seductive challenge to design for a former Architect turned writer. In creating a home as entwined with cryptic enigmas - strokes of tenebrosity punctuated with flashes of warmth, as the mind of the wordsmith within. Like the client, design had to make the arduously promising journey from architecture, towards the transformative literary arts.
The house would become a realisation of her desire of the notion of traversing pauses, private spaces and deeper extensions of even more private niches. The home, as it reveals itself to the visitor – at times becomes a contemplative monolith of mottled concrete and at others of intimate domestic comfort.
A place that would become fragmented / fractured to include green spaces that would extend from different interior spaces to the green outside. It all seemed to be coming together as short stories with interlinked lives within. The subdued restless rumble remains within its fragmentation.
Dialectically presenting the seamless melting together of zinc plated modernity and hand poured concrete on site casting basked in benevolent light. Imposing yet unequivocally accepting.
The house, able to transfigure visitors as each niche exposes itself differently – from the varying perspectives the design allows for – with openness and reckless abandon entrenched within structured walls.
The home embodies an expanding necessity for a tentative equilibrium between the monastic and the exuberant – the latter tucked carefully away into the privacy of the master bedroom and the study spaces.
Having crossed the green of the front of the lot, the journey begins from a wicket door cladded in zinc that operates independently on hinges as well as in conjunction with the whole door that is pivoted; with pulleys it is also mechanised to open louvers for ventilation within the larger door at its upper part. Entering from the lowered gargoyle front it marks the entrance. The house opens beyond the door through a cavern like space where one encounters a moment of an unknown destination. The roof becomes faceted as the roof keeps moving higher and the walls get taller. The light through the narrow skylight slits wash the walls with sunlight and light slits in the twisting and turning concrete walls, directing the movement. At the end of the unravelling cavern like passage the house opens out at its living room – the public heart of the house. The walls on the east side that separate the cavern from the dining and utility spaces of the kitchen are slanted – creating a gap of skylight/ sky between the roof and the tilted concrete walls. The slanted walls do many things to the space in the way they fold; open hidden passage links and welcomes the sunlight within, always making the home as a roofed shelter beneath the sun.
Skylights: The sky lights function as sources of discreet light and also to structurally isolate fragments of spaces – at places such as the living room they make the space a pavilion and the space is structurally isolated from the rear private rooms of the house with the skylights disconnecting the rear part of the house's bedrooms by continuing the skylights as vertical slits of glass – completely making the adjacent living and private spaces (of the rear block) as structurally isolated segments.
The gargoyles collect all the rain water from the modulated concrete planes of the roof, for the irrigation of the garden, these are made into features. This marks the end of the cavern space near the entrance and the falling levels of the sloping roof of the dining room. The gargoyles, as features, inhabit the isolated courtyard of green for the living room and the east courtyard contained by the dining, living, master bed room & its attached study.
The staircase, made of perforated steel sheet folded steps, and the bridge move as another line of the narrative. Narrative of the path that connects the ground plane, to provide access, to the upper levels of the house. It moves gently and also rises level by level, in space, by attachment and suspension. Moving from the cavern like passage through the living room, it seems metaphorically like something with an unknown beginning and an unknown end. Sitting surreally, it overlooks and is seen from the heart of the living space and there it connects visually to become a link that peeps into various moments of the house.
The most private world of the study spaces is an extension of the master bedroom and the other is suspended over the living space. Clad in zinc both define these private worlds to the outside as fortified precious spaces. Within, completely clad in natural wood, they become warm incubators to treasure the places of writing and private nurturing space for the mind.
Concrete extensions: The breakfast alcove creates a triangular alcove of framed form finished concrete between the dining and the garden. When seen from the end of the cavern like entrance passage it seems like a distant fragment across the dining space - something made of the same material as the passage (the form finished concrete) yet lying across a field, the dining room.
The floors are made in concrete – neutral gray across the house – divided by stainless steel flats to control the shrinkage and expansion. The recessed skirting separates the walls from the floors. The narrow recess at the junction is a trough, clad in zinc, to negotiate between them, giving a clear separated end to the floors and walls. Two light fixtures have been designed. One in stainless steel frames – to remain suspended over the bar placed in the living space – made in concrete and zinc clad storage shutters. The other, made in perforated rusted mild steel sheet, captures the materiality of the stairs and the bridge. Fragments of material have the capacity to connect across space and moments.
Educated at CEPT Ahmedabad, the principal architects Nisha Mathew Ghosh and Soumitro Ghosh set up the firm Mathew and Ghosh Architects on partnership in 1995. The city is a PROJECT IN PROGRESS and so are institutions of public/ private/ individual nature including the home; typically a process of evolution. The wide spectrum of projects that the firm has been involved with straddle all the above types of projects; our studio has been a SPACE TO IDEATE about the present and the promise of responsible stewardship in design for the future. The reflexive practice considers that the core intellectual strength of ideation and positioning is the necessary ingredient for good design. It carries a compassionate approach to the multiplicity of the organism of the city, its energy and its people. We believe that buildings are more than the sum total of functions and the physical materials/ space created. They are GENERATORS OF MEMORY.