From the architect: In a country with a history and culture like India’s, it is always interesting to see how designers and architects bring that context into their modern efforts. The quaint, vivid “Vashi farm house” featured in this post was designed by Ahmadabad based architect himanshu patel from d6thD design studio with overt principle of vernacular architecture in mind.
Nestled in the rural landscape of south gujarat, on the outskirts of Surat city, this 450 sqmt farm house sits in a beautifully landscaped plot of 1.25 acre near magnificent andheshwar shiva temple at amalsad village becomes a much needed antidote to today’s rushed competitive & materialistic life style.
This weekend house has a distinct feel of familiarity – rootedness in local regional elements of design and decor. Right from the sloping roof to combat the heavy rainfall prevalent in this region, deeply covered verandah that acts as the transition space from the hot exteriors and the heart of the home – the centrally placed inner courtyard around which are arranged the other living spaces, remind you of the homes of your ancestors. Its culturally responsive environment that explores the various facets of nature acts as an energy refueling and recharging node. Just a couple of days here, and the users feel rejuvenated and recharged with nature’s ‘life energy’.
Upon approaching the property, one encounter a composition of variously proportioned roofing volumes and scale along with circular mass of random rubble stone wall that are arranged over the changing landscape, all of which have a strong underlying cohesiveness and this also gives the residence a vernacular visual identity of the south Gujarat region when viewed from the main road.
The scheme contains majorly two blocks- One is for residential purpose contains four bedroom, living, dinning, kitchen, courtyard and other circular block is for meeting purpose for visitors/trustees from nearby famous shiva temple built by client. The program of residential block has been laid out in an ‘H-shaped’ plan conceptualized around the idea of two green zones, an indoor ‘COURTYARD’ and an outdoor ‘LANDSCAPED GARDEN’ looked as extensions to indoor spaces, thus diluting the boundaries between inside and outside. A taller four bedroom 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. The two masses on either side of the court are connected with stone slab verandah having a gazebo on top. This balance of the two masses created an interesting form – in line with our philosophy for the home.
A fascinating drop-off area semi covered by wooden pergola and a lily water body lead you towards the corbelled brick wall entrance with two small Nandi idols which references the religious distinctiveness of the owners’ attachment. As one enters, the curiosity to explore takes you below stone slab verandah rested on twisted exposed brick column in front of courtyard which distinctly divide the home into private and public areas. Entrance verandah has subtle yet remarkable flooring pattern by polished and rough finished golden kota stone along with cutouts in slab above reference to the plantation below. Series of twisted brick column around courtyard adds drama into the welcoming gesture.
The living space is a slice from the open space concept that accommodates seating, dining and a kitchen making it feel like an expansive lounge. High volume Living space has been highlighted with interesting geometrical patterned flooring created by reusing old marble tile with ceramic inlay and colored stain glass above warli wall painting unfolding the story about traditional lifestyle follow the vernacular theme while the customized sheesham wooden sofa with earthy color soft furnishing provides a touch of ethnic luxury as it both complements and enhances the expanse of natural material’s beauty all around the building. All the interior living spaces seem to breathe, and breathe easy; not groaning under pointless props and frills. Most of the furniture has deliberately been kept lightweight, to facilitate moving it around whenever required. Customized dining chairs add visual interest with its elaborately cantilevered styled shape. A loose stone chips hardscape passage with a rectangular roofing skylight adds the required warmth within living space creates the impression of living outside.
The flat deep verandah not only protects the living space but creates a romantic rooftop sleep-out space. Gazebo just above the entrance door surprisingly creates a sense of security element and at the same time it becomes an almost sensual feel sits out for the upper level bedrooms where the couple spends most of time enjoying the an unobstructed panoramic view of vast landscaped garden.
Boundaries between interior and exterior have been disinterested; every bedroom opens through large folding door to a private outdoor balcony/verandah offering views to garden or courtyard, allowing one to fully engage with the surrounding landscape. Metallic Golden colored Clay pot filler slab bedroom ceiling with small led lights were planned to be simple yet ethnic in its place. The simple life style gets reflected in the simplicity of the spatial quality as well as the furniture. Low furniture without bulky wardrobes and tables compliments the desired ambience.
All the bedrooms have attached bathroom flooded with skylights so that the feel of an open space is not lost for an instant. Exposed cement finished wall and crazy kota stone flooring compliment the robust looking textured granite back panel with brushed golden faucets in rain shower area. The staircase leading to the upper floor is interestingly half done with solid thick kadappa stone steps and half done with open riser wooden planks, adding to the openness of the space.
Every aspect of the interiors, though simple, is in fact making dexterous efforts to encompass an ideal balance of luxury and tradition. Carefully selected antique show pieces are merged with hand-carved solid wooden furniture. The interiors are understated and yet charming. This includes scraped propeller rotary blades turned into center table support within living space seating.
The materials and techniques employed in this house are not only time tested and reliable but clearly reflect a cultural and climate sensitivity towards the area. The foundation is of random rubble stone masonry, and 14” thick load bearing exposed brick walls in quetta bond act as thermal insulators. The house integrates numerous roofing techniques with different volumes: The ground floor bedrooms having locally made clay pots filler in rcc slab, low height rough kota stone roof with steel girder above verandah and high volume pitched roof with decorative clay ceiling tiles. These construction methods adopted also creates training and jobs for the neighboring villages. Old methods of construction are recalled like brick arches contrasted by stone wall emphasizing the visual resonance of both materials lending the project an earthy and rustic feel. What tops it all is the reuse of old wooden door window and marble flooring materials in large quantity. Part of the building which is circular shape is the purely response towards reusing curved shaped old windows.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the house remains true to its context and testifies itself to the norms of vernacular architecture, instead of vying for an identity amongst lipstick architectural buildings so called modern.
Outdoor deck and landscaped gardens serve as expansive entertaining areas. As the trees grow and the building ages, built-and un-built will become more and more indistinguishable and graceful. When natural and manmade are in sync, the composition is always special. It’s the right balance of Soft mounds, grassy lawns and plants in a variety of scales, colors and scents juxtaposed with exposed brick and stone that binds the house.
On the whole the house was conceptualized as one with a vernacular feel that maintained a luxury edge.
PMC team expressed that; this project was truly a label of love from both the client’s as well as our side. It is rare when the client’s and the designer’s ideas about a house seem to be in total synchrony.
It is a joyous experience to all those who has built this, who live here and those who visit this house. They say that there is some immeasurable hidden dimension that rejuvenates and vitalizes them once they are in this house. Could we call it the spirit dimension? We call it the 6th dimension; dimension to feel good- says architect.
Location: Amalsad Village, Nr.Surat, Gujarat, India
Area: 450 sqm
Architects: d6thD design studio
Principal: Himanshu Patel
Photographs: Maulik Patel, Nitin Panchal