The weightlessness of Rana Begum's alchemy of light, colour and material
by Sukanya GargNov 26, 2019
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Pashmin ShahPublished on : Oct 16, 2019
“There is too much architecture between me and the view,” said the late legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa, and we at Amoeba Design kept that in mind while designing this house. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the entire design process for this house was driven by Bawa’s quote.
This home, nestled in the hills around Lonavla near Mumbai, India, belongs to a famous Indian cinematographer, and the main idea was to give him a getaway from the chaos of the film city. In one of his very first discussions with us, he asked for an honest and non-cluttered space where he could weave his thoughts in the quiet and breathe the fresh air.
As far as the setting goes, the apartment overlooks a beautiful hill with a large pasture around and railway tracks beyond. It’s the perfect backdrop, as the landscape changes with every changing season.
The brief was in keeping with the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, a world view that focuses on the acceptance of imperfection. He wanted a clutter-free home that let him enjoy the setting for what it was. His parents would be the ones based there and permanently living in the house, while our client and his wife would be visiting from Mumbai over the weekends. And that is how the house started taking shape, both on our drawing board as well as in real time. We stuck to authentic, simple and close to nature approach, celebrating the beauty of a naturally imperfect world. What we enjoyed translating and expressing was the simplicity of the site. As you look around, you will notice the harmony of the natural material palette - it is texturally rich and crisp.
Spread over three floors, originally the house had a two-BHK apartment and a one-BHK apartment that were merged to create a larger apartment with four bedrooms. We opened up the north side of the living room towards the hills to optimise the view. The two balcony doors ensure that the ever-changing landscape becomes a framed natural, evolving artwork.
Restricting the material palette to concrete and wood was an important part of the design process as both the materials, as they age, start telling stories of the place. Another reason for this choice was that both concrete and wood emphasise the beauty and poetic imperfection of nature’s texture.
The walls and floor are stained in pigmented cement plaster to mimic dry grass, making the apartment look as if it has been set into the landscape. The wood in the ceiling adds the required element of warmth that is requisite of a home.
Most of the interior walls were broken down and removed completely to open up the space. Windows and other opening were added into the structure to let the landscape become a part of the interiors. All the furniture has also been custom-designed for the house. The overall colour palette has been kept neutral to enhance the sense of earthy calm, and infuse a sense of the natural environment into the spaces.
With context playing an important role, the apartment promotes an overall sense of peace and tranquillity by using simplicity of form and surface as the basis of the design. It also helps in visualising the material palette. To us, this home represents a state of mind, a way of being. It highlights the subtle art of being at peace with yourself and your surroundings. It comes alive in its minimalistic approach to design, only keeping the things around that are essential for a calm and happy spirit.
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