SANDHYA VAKIL HOUSE
Panvel, Maharashtra, India
The farm house nestled in the undulating lands at the foothills of the Sahyadris is the ideal weekend retreat for the Vakils. The design of the house echoes the landscape – both immediate and beyond. The brief given to the architects was basic- a space where the entire family can retreat to for the weekend. The architecture of the space draws inspiration from the traditional and is interpreted in a modern context. The traditional central court- the feature of a most Indian havelis, is replicated here but with a twist. Similar to traditional layouts all the habitable rooms open out onto this central court but the court has been provided with a large water body. This serves as both a recreational space as well as a medium for controlling the ambient temperature and humidity of the surrounding rooms. The shape of the water body echoes the building language and is an irregular shape. Rain water from the roof is also harvested in this water body.
Four bedrooms are cloistered around this central court along with functional rooms like kitchen and dining. The dining not only opens out onto the central court but also out onto the farm beyond. The four bedrooms, each accessed from the court have a sliding glass wall on the opposite side. This opens out onto a courtyard which is circles by high walls but is open to sky. On cool days and nights the room becomes an extension of the environment beyond. Each habitable space is defined by a high pitched roof finished with the material best suited for this region of heavy monsoon rainfall- red clay tiles. The material vocabulary is limited to basalt stone (locally available), exposed concrete (expressed in ceilings- slab bottoms, and as a box around fenestrations. Flooring is restricted to natural stone and rough tiles. This limited palette of materials gives a Zen effect to the overall space.
Whilst the rooms are spread out on a single level the living room has a mezzanine tucked below its high roof. Accessible from this mezzanine is a terrace level walkway (amidst the sloping roofs) which is a breakout space for the family and a popular hangout for star watching in the nights. Even though the plan relies on the traditional courtyard concept there is ample light and ventilation in all the rooms. Fenestrations following a playful architectural vocabulary face the internal courtyard whilst each room’s private court is lined by sliding doors & windows protected by a large overhang. They not only bring in controlled light but when open, cross ventilation is easily facilitated. This not only eliminates the need to air condition any room but also ceiling fans are conspicuously absent.
The landscape, like the architecture, follows a minimalist path. A strategically placed temple tree defines the landscape in the central court whilst the outdoors is heavily planted with local flora. The building snugly fits in its environs without shouting out for attention. It’s only when the visitor enters the space that all its spaces, volumes & features slowly grow on him. The minimalist approach to the design of the farmhouse and the selective use of materials creates a structure that is both subtle and unique and gives the Vakils the perfect space for a weekend escape and a place they can call home.
LocationPanvel, Maharashtra, India
Built Up Area821 Square Meters
Site Area2 Acres
Karim and Sandhaya Vakil
S. D. Gonugade and Company
Landscape Design : CCBA Designs, Pune
Interior Design : CCBA Designs, Pune
Structural Design : Satish Marathe Consulting Engineers, Pune
Prof. Christopher Benninger, Daraius Choksi, Rahul Sathe, Kapil Agarwal and Nilesh Desai