by Jerry ElengicalSep 08, 2021
Located on a sugar factory campus in the small town of Dhampur in northern India, is a carefully planned home for a family of five. Designed by Mumbai-based Rajiv Saini + Associates, this structure is the fourth residential design project his studio has taken on for the family. Their long-standing relationship began when Saini first worked on the family's Delhi residence a decade ago. He has since designed and built their homes in Goa and on the hills of Dehradun. The factory has been around since the mid-50s and has expanded over time. A lot of the infrastructure and buildings constructed on-site was done in an ad-hoc manner. Saini chose to relocate a few dilapidated structures and create a clearing, to construct this new 7400 square foot, five-bedroom house.
The couple, who recently became empty nesters, wanted to move away from their Delhi residence and spend more time on the factory campus. The firm used two themes to conceptualise the project. The first was the family’s desire to ensure that the new structure resonated visually with the factory premises, and the second was the use of previous structures in the selected plot of land. Initially, there were few smaller homes built using local brick. Keeping these two ideas in mind Saini decided to use bricks that were made at a local kiln as the primary medium of construction. Built by local labourers from the surrounding village, the structure features exposed brick and concrete.
The house is a linear plan primarily due to the shape of the allocated plot. A wide central corridor extends from the entrance of the structure to the bedrooms at the far end. A large family room acts as a hub and is located at the heart of the home. Along its northern edge, the room opens out to a large covered veranda or deck. A corridor on the southern side of the room leads to the kitchen and three of the five bedrooms. The remaining two bedrooms and a reception room can be accessed from across the room. Keeping the family’s role on the factory campus in mind, the reception room doubles as a space to host a meeting with the factory workers and managers. It also has its own small veranda, and entry. The house also consists of a garden facing gym, which can be accessed via a covered path.
As a linear home, Saini created modulation within the building volume by creating variation in the ceiling heights throughout the house. This is particularly visible in the mass of the house in the exterior views. Clerestory windows are introduced in the central corridor, while the family room stands out in the building's mass as a seven-metre-high space. This height allows soft northern light to enter the space throughout the day.
Contrasting the textured exterior walls is the smooth grey stucco wall in the interiors. The complementary tactility of these surfaces creates two distinct experiences. The flooring throughout the house is a pale grey terrazzo, which is an interesting merge of the fragmented quality of the external exposed brick and the internal grey stucco walls. All bathrooms are clad in Carrara marble with timber floors and furnishings.
The furniture in the house is an eclectic mix that is meant to reflect the family taste, grounded nature. Saini’s keen eye for detail and his ability to create an aesthetic narrative using a variety of objects is clearly on display here. The house showcases vintage pieces and lamps, sourced from galleries in Europe, along with custom made teak wood objects. The soft-furnishing of the home range from vintage Turkish kilims to locally acquired cotton and linens. The grey walls are the perfect element to display art that is sourced from an array of Indian galleries, along with folk and tribal artefacts.
One aspect of the house that seems to be missing is a detailed landscape design. However, this is done on purpose. The matriarch of the family expressed her desire to cultivate the garden herself. Saini, not wanting to leave the land barren, framed the land with just enough green cover to provide a respite during the harsh summer months. Designed as a home where the couple can retire to and grow old together, the interior design and the architectural planning both keep the longevity of the space in mind.