OASIS HOUSE: ARCHITECTURE IN RESPONSE
Concept and Approach :
Oasis House – Set in the midst of a “desert” of surrounding development in a residential locality, this “oasis” is conceived to make a bold statement, to stand out and grab eyeballs with a dramatic built-form. This house on a city plot will strive to offer its occupants a strong connection with natural elements, even as they are cocooned securely within it’s walls, ultimately creating a haven, a getaway from the maddening noise of city life.
A man discovers new facets of himself in solitude, in nature, in the quiet peaceful, secure confines of his home. Some spaces are designed to becalm the mind, while others are crafted to delight, surprise, and energize the spirit. Interiors have been designed to convey class, comfort and understated luxury. Clean lines and clean finishes continue into the interior detailing, with many of the interior units offering a sculptural quality.
The Site and the Client’s Brief :
The client desired a luxury home for a family of 4 on a corner plot (bounded by roads on the East and South) measuring approximately 6500 sft in a residential locality in Bangalore. The plot had residential development 2-3 storey tall surrounding it on the East, South and North. On the West was an as-yet-unused site on which residential development could be expected in the near future.
He appreciated nature and requested that important areas have a connection with the outdoors. Being one to entertain guests on a regular basis, he requested the Living and Dining spaces be configured to accommodate as many as 18 -20 people when required. The Kitchen was to be equipped to handle food preparation for a similar number when required. Stay-over guests were also expected, and thus 2 Guest bedrooms were required. A riveting elevation and luxurious interiors were requested. The house was to be Vaastu compliant.
Architecture in ‘Response’ :
The built form of the house is a stylized response to a few givens- the site and its immediate surrounds, climatoligical factors and client’s requirements. In keeping with principles of contemporary architecture, the house has ‘clean’ lines. The drama of the house stems from the way these horizontal lines are emphasized, and how they come together to create a feeling of ‘movement’. One can perceive the house stretching, reaching… ..dynamic, never static. This reflects the ideology of
a dynamic individual- happy and content, yet always looking for more out of life… searching, striving.
Meeting the client’s spatial requirements resulted in a large footprint for the built structure on the plot of land. Within and around this large footprint are vital semi enclosed “green pockets” that abound with natural light and air. These spaces strive to connect the living spaces of the home with natural elements. On a city site surrounded by development 2-3 storey tall on all sides, it was a challenge to provide privacy to these semi-outdoor and outdoor spaces without compromising on their aesthetics, light and ventilation.
The client desired an arresting elevation. As one approaches the house from the main road, visual drama is achieved through the creation of an imposing feature on the First Floor– a dramatic cantilevered mass with a clean soffit. The soffit of the cantilever is emphasized by cladding it in recycled pine wood. A large, acute- angled corner window capped with an overhanging roof completes the drama of the cantilevered mass. This window overlooks the intersection of the two roads abutting the site and is strategically placed to capture the view of a large tree on the road, diagonally opposite it.
The compound walls are tall – 8 feet in height- and designed to offer privacy to rooms on the Ground Floor. They are clad in concrete panels -poured in situ into a custom designed mould- which creates a bamboo pattern in relief on the concrete surface. The concrete is finished with a simple cement screed and left unpainted. The compound wall has a ‘must-touch’ feel and when one indulges the notion, it never fails to win a smile!
Emphasis on the horizontal line is the underlying theme of the elevational treatment of the entire house, internally and externally. One sees it everywhere-in the bold treatment given to the thicknesses of projected roof slabs (they are finished with a C channel sections painted a dark grey), in the grooves on the pine wood clad soffits of roof overhangs, in the overall massing of the house, in the massing of cabinetry in the interiors, in the staircases, and door details. The gates and the double height wood trellis (at pedestrian entry) are both made in vertical sections of Burma teak and are designed to be counter points to the horizontals.
A dramatic entry was a requested. Passing through the pedestrian gate, one immediately encounters two other standout features of the house- the pool to your right, and a double height, glass-floored semi-enclosed Outer Lobby in front of you. The pool has a sheltering cantilevered mass over it at the First Floor level (a bedroom for one of the client’s daughters) and becomes the backdrop for the Living area on the Ground Floor.
Passing through the main door, one encounters an Inner Lobby whose roof has been brought down to 8 feet height. Beyond is the central double heighted Court which features a planter bed and wood engineered floors. The rooms and spaces of the Ground Floor are arranged around the Court. To one’s right is the Living and to the left is the Dining. A rain curtain adds the element of water and demarcates the Court from the Dining. A curved sculptural unit demarcates the Court from the Living. Both the Living and the Dining spaces derive benefit from the greenery of the Court. The Living and Dining rooms have identical 16 feet wide sliding doors connected to their own “green pockets”. While the Living looks directly to the pool, the Dining has a long narrow wooden deck attached to it. The Deck has been treated with plants and small trees that abut the compound wall. It also features a small breakfast table and two chairs.
The predominant colour of the Ground Floor is white- with floors finished in natural white marble, sofas in white upholstery, white walls and roof- all coming together to offer a cool, sophisticated feel. Burma teak sliding doors and wooden furniture add the touch of required warmth. In the Living room black centre tables add a dramatic contrast.
The stair is minimalist and dramatic- with 4 feet long cantilevered treads of solid teak wood that conceal a metal framing. The walls of the stair area are clad in local granite with a leathered finish. The First Floor houses three bedrooms (a Master bedroom and two daughter’s bedrooms), and a Puja room. The Second Floor houses a large Home Theatre/ Entertainment room, an entertainment terrace and a Guest bedroom.
A big talking point of the house is the Sit-out of a daughter’s bedroom located on the First floor -It has a completely transparent glassed floor directly above the pool! This feature never fails to draw a reaction from visitors and Guests. As one stands at the door to the glass-floored Sit out, reactions range from surprise, to delight, to downright panic. Ultimately, those who do decide to walk out onto the 2 ½” inch thick toughened laminated glass can revel in the thrill that comes with experiencing something totally new-the pool 15 feet below your feet!
Other features of the house include cantilevered glass steps in the double height Master bedroom, a glass floored Outer Lobby which creates a water feature below your feet as you walk to the main door, a mirrored vertical light shaft that brings light from the Terrace to land-locked walk-in wardrobes of both the daughter’s bedrooms on the First floor.
Climatological Approach and Green Design:
Basic climatoligical principles were adhered to. Keeping in mind the prevailing wind direction in Bangalore (East to West), openings have been created to maximize the free circulation of air through the house. Large sliding windows on the East wall of the Living room allow in air that has been cooled after passing over the swimming
pool. Cross ventilation is maximized by the strategic placement of windows in habitable rooms. On the Ground Floor, a rain curtain is placed in the path of the incoming breezes, thereby cooling air as it moves from the Living to the Dining area. The South face of the house has large roof overhangs and minimal openings-to minimize solar heat gain on this face.
Going ‘green’, the house features LED lighting, a solar hot-water re-circulation system which minimizes water wastage, rain water harvesting and trees planted as shading devices.