INDIA HOUSE

Pune, Maharashtra, India

India House is conceptually derived from a traditional urban prototype called a haveli, or a wada in Pune. Wadas form the urban fabric of Pune’s core, old city, where they enclose central courtyards, from where one moves into activity zones for various social, cultural and occupational activities. These central courtyards also facilitate movement, air circulation and gift privacy to structures facing upon chaotic urban streets. The employment of this traditional prototype is a counter-blast to the sprawling, alien ‘bungalow’ typology generating a low-density, high cost suburbia, dependent on automobiles, across the sub-continent.  The bungalow prototype is the type most validated, praised and promoted by foreign academics and journalists through exhibitions and awards, seeing in it styles and mechanisms they recognize and are comfortable with.

As such, India House was conceptualized with layers of spaces that provide both security, as well as segregation of business and cultural activities from residential areas. Sitting on a one thousand square meters urban plot, the wada accommodates one of the city’s largest art galleries, a small auditorium, the architect’s library and study, corporate architectural studios and offices, and a guesthouse. There is a lap pool for swimming and a roof garden gymnasium. The central courtyard is used for celebrating festivals, pujas, music and dance programs, large formal dinners and public seminars.

A promenade with Lotus pools, statues and Bhutanese prayer wheels creates an introductory layer of privacy between a busy public street and the semi-public courtyard. This area acts as a breakout space during cultural events, where refreshments are often served.

A traditional street-facing, stone façade, with seventy-eight relief carvings, and no windows, is punctuated by a large wooden door, or Mahadwara marking the formal portal into the central courtyard, while disconnecting visitors and inhabitants emotionally from the busy street life.

Employing jack-arches on a concrete frame, and clad in sandstone, the external, solid facades are either blank or modulated with square windows in black granite frames, providing privacy, while offering light and ventilation. The street facing murals reflect various cosmic symbols, belief systems, and elements of nature, causing visitors to pause and reflect while entering the premises.

A lap pool in the courtyard and lotus pools in the promenade, cool the premises by creating a microclimate in the enclosed spaces. The front main portal, or the Mahadwara, is an Eighteenth Century wood door, salvaged from an ancient Moghul haveli of north India. From this four and a half meter tall portal, with a small convenience door built into it, leading into the atrium courtyard, one’s sightline is focused onto a large Shiva bust, sculpted in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

India House is a systematic composition of three equal sized volumes, with the middle volume left open as the atrium courtyard, admitting sunlight and breezes. This atrium acts as the studio breakout space at for design teams, and an outdoor café for lunches, catalyzing communication and interaction. Visiting student and professional groups meet here for discussions and lectures.

Operable aluminum louvers, run down the internal courtyard elevations of the house and the studio, and span across the courtyard, creating an atrium. They draw their inspiration from traditional screens, or “jaalis,” and can be opened and closed to temper the north light in the studio, lend privacy to the residence, or to welcome the warm winter sun in this chilly mountain climate. These louvers, and the ceiling vaults, are 1.2 meters wide, bringing a discipline of measure into the composition.

Double height spaces in the residence and in the office-gallery entry link the levels respectively up into the library and down into the art gallery. In the residence, interconnected vertical spaces create a chimney effect, on up to the roof garden terrace and small gymnasium.

The interiors of India House include various contemporary and traditional art works and folk crafts. Various vernacular artists, craftsmen and contemporary painters come as artists-in-residence, reviving fading skills and embellishing the ambiance.

 

 

LocationPune, Maharashtra, India

Built Up Area1,500 Square Meters

Site Area0.27 Acres

Completion2008

Client

Prof. Christopher Benninger and Mr. Ramprasad Akkisetti

Prime Contractor

Millennium Contractors, Pune

Services

Structural Design : Satish Marathe Consulting Engineers

Landscape Design : CCBA, Pune

Interior Design : CCBA, Pune

 

 

Photos

Mr. Ramprasad Akkisetti

Mr. Deepak Kaw

Design Team

Khushru Irani, Daraius Choksi, Rahul Sathe, Mangesh Puranik, Erwin Pimenta, Noel Jerald V, Bhushan Pise, Nilesh Desai and Harsh Manrao

Awards