a weekend retreat @ rajkot
A weekend home on the edge of a dry riverbed that is meant for relaxation and rejuvenation for the family. To relax here, is to be with nature and this is the point that is guiding whole building. Conceptually the building is a shelter that is open to nature around and itself made with natural materials. A house with the nature, made from the nature and for those who love nature!
The entrance view of building has solid two story random rubble stone wall which anchors the building with earth. One enters in site in narrow front yard, walks across the landscape design on one side of building and slowly climbs to entrance foyer. When the main door is opened, one gets full view of riverbed and garden across the ground floor space.
The ground floor is conceived as a single large space functioning as living, dinning, kitchen and bedroom space; without any partitions in-between. Whole ground floor opens up towards river bed side by full height bi-fold glass shutters. The upper floor – which is accessed through an outdoor spiral stair, is designed with one bedroom space and two levels of terraces that can be used for multiple purposes from watching sunset to having a party.
In front of living room of this weekend house there is large open porch. This porch and green lawn which is directly accessible from dining and bedroom, directly connects house with garden and where most gatherings takes place. Soft paving of lawn has been selected in front of dinning and bedroom, so as to gentle the indirect sunlight and reduce heating of floor. To enhance this openness of space cast-insitu terrazzo is used in flooring design so that there are least joints. Terrazzo beds runs across the width of space and glass strip joints are only unidirectional.
project concept note
The effort was to explore each and every material in a way that every element has its own importance and yet it is in order of the holistic idea of the building. The whole material palette is of natural materials which last forever. The project is done with hands-on approach. Rather than buying readymade things from showrooms, every small thing went into prolong process of finding right materials, finding skilled craftsmen and applying right techniques. Site itself became the drafting table and discussion table, craftsmen became deeply involved part of detailing and designing.
“ to create a wholistic experience of living side by side with nature by completely opening one side of building towards riverbed and by implementing materials and techniques in their natural behavior ”
photographs: Henish Patel
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” This house is named Villa Aaranyak, Aaranyak means ‘in the woods’. True to its name, the idea behind making this house was to create a serene environment in lapse of nature. As nature is the primary element it is deliberately taken care of that sun, wind, rain, sky and greenery remains much more important than building itself. The architecture had to be just a connecting dot between people and nature. Spaces of the building and making of the building both had to respect nature.
The boundary between building and garden becomes so much diluted that house almost becomes a landscape in itself… inside and outside merges into each other…”
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In this weekend home, bedroom design on ground floor does not have partition wall, so during daytime it used as part of this large space and only at night when the sofa cum bed is unfolded, it is used for sleeping. Whole ground floor layout opens up towards river bed side by full height bi-fold glass shutters.
Main door design which opens in living which has slant slab, low towards entrance and high towards riverbed side. This volume gives a sense of opening up towards riverbed.
natural light and ventilation in the architectural design
As plot of this farmhouse design in India – situated near Rajkot, was completely opening towards west side, there was plenty of wind and natural light throughout. There was so much natural wind because of vast open riverbed that ceiling fans itself are not placed!
Actually the issue was to restrict heat from too much sunlight on glass shutters. For that the house building is slightly tilted and made parallel to angular plot line. This helped to get better view and also softened the effect of sun because rather than direct west, full height opening orients towards north-west. Five feet cantilever on this side made sure that sun does not directly fall on glass before 4 pm. Soft paving of garden lawn has been designed in front of dinning and bedroom, so as to gentle the indirect sunlight and reduce heating of floor.
Curved skylight holes in living area gives mild sun rays and removes hot air when doors and curtains are closed.
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material and construction of house
Mainly the structural system is RCC frame structure. Random rubble sand stone (from Than and Morbi, near Rajkot) walls are partially load-bearing. RCC columns and stone walls both are retained exposed as material and pointing is done on wall. The structural frames have been separated from stone walls giving both the materials importance and identity of their own. Inside flooring is cast-insitu terrazzo flooring and on landscape design bamboo flooring is done without PCC base so that rain water can percolate in ground. Louvers are designed in soild teak wood and finished with telpani polish. Pivot windows are designed in deodar wood and to protect it from weather effects bees wax polish is done. All furniture of this bungalow is done in soild wood only, plywood is rarely used.
overall ambiance envisaged for the living room of the house: Ambiance of living room were envisaged to be vast, open to nature, serene and all the elements at its purest form possible.
The décor including the layout, colour theme, paintings, headboard designs and furniture design of the different bedrooms:
I believe the materials that make this house are very beautiful in themselves and purity of those materials should not be diluted. That is why I have consciously not used paintings, sculptures or any other artifacts for décor.
In this farmhouse design in India, furniture and interior design are very basic and minimum so that landscape and building retains the prominence. Instead of sofa and beds khatiya are made from solid teak wood and metal pipes, which can be easily lifted and taken to garden for seating or sleeping! Outdoor benches and dinning table are designed in raw tree trunk wood.
Selection of materials for the kitchen flooring, counter top, walls and furniture: The ground floor is a single large space without any partitions in between. To enhance this openness of space cast-insitu terrazzo flooring is used in flooring so that there are least joints. Terrazzo beds runs across the width of space and glass strip joints are only unidirectional.
From works, life and writings of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the sheer passion he had for architecture.
“ln organic building nothing is complete in itself but is only complete as the part is merged into the larger expression of the whole.” frank lloyd wright
“The good building is not one that hurts landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.” frank lloyd wright
Is this project sustainable architecture?
I think sustainability becomes part of life when one does not have lavish budget and want to spend reasonably. Some fundamentals of sustainable architecture may be seen in this project. Many materials used here are renewable. Reclaimed stones and reclaimed wood is extensively used. But my intention behind using these materials was to explore natural materials and use each and every material as per nature of the material and not just for the sake of aesthetics. All the materials are in pure natural state and not cladded or hide. Rather than sustainable design, I would like to call it ‘Organic Architecture’
Landscape design for the project
To actually realize the meaning of weekend house to be with nature, construction has been restricted and most area is covered with modern landscape. Narrow front yard has plants, stone elements, lotus pool and cement strengthened terracotta pots. The main garden landscape is designed in backyard towards riverbed side. There are three levels of landscape steps which leads from inside plinth to actual garden level. These steps becomes seating spaces for the garden and is floored with bamboo flooring without a PCC base.
Overall the house itself merges with landscape.
Prarthit Shah is a landscape designer in Rajkot with projects of farmhouse landscape design, hotel landscape design, residential landscape design, terrace landscape design and more.