Delhi’s existing neighborhoods have traditionally been defined by 2 storey houses set back from the tree lined road and buffered from it by a front garden. This relationship has been altered by the new planning regulations that permit taller structures, consuming greater area and with reduced setbacks. The resulting urban condition creates the sensation of buildings imposing themselves on the street and within the homes, the absence of green cover /courtyards, and light is palpable. The ground plane, formerly garden and patio / living spaces, has been given over to parking, eliminating any meaningful connection to the street outside. This proposal re-evaluates the typology of the building form as prescribed by the current guidelines and adapts it to re-establish the sensation of the pre-existing urban condition. The lower sections of the house are excised to allow the continuation of the street through the house creating a deep garden that propagates downwards into the basement office and upwards through a series of fragmented court and fissures. The central courtyard is a network of labyrinthine voids running laterally and vertically through the house working as a light catcher and thermal balancer and expressed as a combination of green spaces, deep fissures and skylights. A gigantic structural pylon is the load bearing pivot for the cantilevered superstructure, creating shaded ground and resonating the language of Delhi’s monumental institutions. The house at its starting point appears to be a hovering monolith differentiated by its mediation with internal and urban space but is realized ultimately as a series of internal spatial shifts that bind the house with nature and light. Under normal circumstances the main circulation core would have been located on the western face of the plot to minimize heat gain, but in this case, with the plot being hemmed in on 3 sides, we need to find ways to bring light into the house. The eastern wall is shared with the adjoining plot and offers very little possibility in terms of gaining natural light. Therefore, we have placed the core on the eastern face of the plot. The house on the west is at a distance of 20ft from the western face of our house. This gap offers more in terms of natural light and considering that there is a gap of 20ft between two walls of 50ft height. We won’t be exposed to majority of the harsh western sun. As a concept we have adapted the western face of the house to bring in controlled light through punctures, screens and northern skylights without opening up any views to the west, as there is another house only 20ft away. This arrangement allows us to bring the maximum amount of light from the north and north western parts of the house, which is where our site has the maximum openness. By elongating and narrowing the main circulation core we create a large, continuous open volume (32ft X 80ft) within which we can locate most of the living areas. It allows us to puncture the house with a vertical court without having to compromise on usable footprints and allows the house to be visually unified. By raising the major volume to a height of 18ft from the ground level a large garden can be opened in the north. A large cutout brings light into the basement and this space connects with the vertical void running through the house. This void spreads horizontally into the double height landscape terraces at different levels visually as one enters the plot, one perceives a massive example of landscaped space.
MALIK ARCHITECTURE is a 47-year-old design practice based in Mumbai. Founder and principal architect, Kamal Malik, was born and raised in the hills of North India and to this day, nature remains the source of his inspiration. He completed his studies at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi. He is a follower of the Patanjali school of yoga, concept of time, continuity, reflection and of silence through which a syntax of metaphors is developed, allowing him to comment on subjects ranging from urban decay and regeneration to the more intangible notions of homogeneity and purity.
His son Arjun returned from Columbia University in 2005. There seemed to be a growing disdain for 'overly intellectualized architecture' and the work pointed towards the development of an idiom that would reconcile the intellectual and intuitive aspects of architecture, that would provide a tangible link to the past without getting nostalgic and would be technologically progressive.
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