“The joint is the critical thing in construction… .I believe that these joints are the beginning of ornament.”—Louis I Kahn
Amba, A village situated in Kolhapur – Ratnagiri state highway no. 204, With an altitude of 690 meters above the sea level in the western ghats of Sahyadri ranges and acting as a threshold to the famous Konkan. Nestled within evergreen tropical forests, the region is environmental hotspot with rich biodiversity.
The site is measuring roughly 5000 sqft., on the foot hills With the negligible slope and rocky terrain it is oriented in East—West axis on the longer side with splendid view of reserved forest on the north side which is acting as a backyard and a ephemeral stream gushing in close proximity to western boundary. The site has a direct connectivity from highway providing vignettes of mountains.
The design revolves around analyzing the vernacular style, materials, climatic response and 360 degree unobstructed view. Considering the advantageous western breeze the open greens have been articulated on the west end of the site; the north and east face of the structure is donned with calculative puncture size and location both to enhance the view and aid the cross ventilation .The structure is bundled into a micro module of 400x400mm and repeated to form a macro module of 4x4m which express the internal spaces. The ground floor is articulated and laid to allow the space to continue from outdoor to indoor and again to outdoor, with the space giving a multifaceted utility as well as pocketed spill over space as per the size of congregation. The living area is very linear in shape to accommodate maximum gathering size. It also acts as a major connector to the rest of the retreat. The space has a beautiful spill over to the large congregational lawn, through a large traditionally articulated wooden door. The living comes out really alive throughout the day with play of light due to the slot of the skylight. Master bedroom is accessed through a corridor. It evokes a mystic connection due to strategic placement of the skylight and is filled with dramatic procession. The bed room is raised by a meter to play in volumes. The raised level provides an opportunity perched viewing along with unobstructed view on the three sides of the naturally borrowed landscape across the site limits. The bedroom opens up into verandah and which is fused with social space through reclining lawn which provides the privilege of informal gathering space. The slope is metaphorically laid a part of the hills in which the site is nestled and fused dramatically, one can lay down and interact to awe with the eternal expanse of space above in the evenings, speaking to millions stars which evokes a pure sense of tranquility.
The first floor bed room has its own significance which opens up into large open terrace and a covered balcony which provides magnificent vista even from inside too. Both toilets on ground and first floor have a unique character, with a slice in the slab which invites the part of natural sunlight. The servant’s room on the ground floor is strategically positioned, which provides easy service entry to the kitchen as well as visual connectivity to the entrance in terms of guarding the property.
The structure is load bearing and characterized by the use of vernacular material as a laterite stone. The distinct language of the laterite stone adds a unique flavor to the appearance of retreat with a perfect traditional racked joints; that justifies its own character. As the structure nestled in the womb of nature, emphasis is to use of natural material as kadappa stone flooring for interiors, Shahabad stone flooring for verandahs and combination of both for benches at entrance as well as on the toilet dado at ground floor. The First floor toilet has been rendered with the unique identity by creating mosaic work on the wall. The profile of the house is dominated by sloping roof which is another vernacular character and extended widely to protect from heavy rains. The height is intentionally kept low as to give the feeling of traditional abodes and friendly relation to the massing. Precisely crafted devalis (oil lamp niche) in Basalt stone which are perfectly positioned on either side of the door opening hints the grace and even breaks the monotony of hefty laterite stone language. The main door is dominated with the sense of wada entrance with brass call rings & latch embeds, it defines the vernacular feature.
Landscape too has been resonated, as per the native condition where the site is nestled. As Amba is lying in the crest of Western Ghats hotpot, it is patched with paddy in agriculture and an evergreen, semi evergreen forest patch. So the temptations of selecting typical urban trees and shrubs have been reserved and the more generous way of ecological centered approach was taken. While the softscape was centered along ecology, the outdoor spaces are composed in the manner that the congregation size right from two—three people to around twenty has been interspersed throughout, in terms of play in levels, slopes, ledges or even with a simple gesture like tree planter. Spaces for various activities like night star gazing with fire pit, late evening movie marathon, or a very basic and simple as grabbing a hot coffee mug and finding corner to get indulged into one of your favorite books.
The structure adorned with the traditional elements when looked a distance, it seems to be gently cropping up the natural landscape around rather than making a huge statement for itself.