“150 Steps Up to the Sea” private villa | The Plan
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“150 Steps Up to the Sea” private villa

The universal language of architecture

Matharoo Associates

“150 Steps Up to the Sea” private villa
By Philip Jodidio -

Trade in diamonds, textiles, oil and metals have made Surat one of the most prosperous and vibrant cities in India. It is due to be the fastest growing city in the country until 2035 at least. The 150 Steps Up to the Sea house is located 20 km from the city center in the coastal town of Dumas. Built for a couple in the jewelry business and their son’s family of three, the residence provides enough elevation over palm trees to offer views of the Arabian Sea. The architect imagined creating a connection between a fresh-water well found on the site and the sea as the driving idea for the design. Gurjit Singh Matharoo says of the long demolished, colonial style haveli that once stood on the same land, “There must have existed thick stone walls and piers that bore the weight of a massive structure, there must have existed lofty volumes, grand staircases and wide passageways, there must have existed life with people and stories. It was the presence of what once was on the land that became the starting point for the conception of the house”.

The name of this house, 150 Steps Up to the Sea refers to the sea viewing deck which was also a starting point of the project. Indeed, the play on steps is a major element of the architectural design in terms of the richness of the space thus generated, making use of sometimes limited natural light to bring to life apparently rough concrete forms. Matharoo has strong feelings about concrete, in esthetic terms but also insofar as ecology is concerned. He states, “Research that we have carried out indicates that some building materials are not as bad in ecological terms as they are presented to be. In addition to their structural function, concrete and steel may in fact be stronger and consume less energy than other materials. Building materials that may be considered ‘green’ in other countries do not necessarily make sense in India. Just following the past is not the way...

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