by Zohra KhanMay 17, 2022
'Aayi', in the Indian Marathi and Konkani languages, means mother. A mother, by and far, is the closest personification of the feeling of home. Channelling this inspiration is Aayi by Indian practice Collage Architecture Studio, which rises from the edge of a corner plot in the sprawling Goan countryside as a collection of punctured cuboidal masses framed by towering palm trees and vast expanses of rural farmland. Built for the family of Swapnil Valvatkar - one of the three founding partners of the firm - the two-storey abode pays homage to the architecture of traditional Goan homes, accentuated by a contemporary minimalist aesthetic and reverence for nature that blend with the rustic context.
A piece of memory
The name ‘Aayi’ was chosen in honour of the Valvatkar’s own grandmother, who purchased the plot in 1977 and built the family’s original home there. Currently occupying an eastern swathe of the 1440 sqm plot, this house serves as a monument to her memory and is a source of emotional attachment for the family. “It was but natural that when we were to build a new house adjacent to the original, it had to be named after her. She was fondly called Aayi by everyone in the area,” reminisces the Bangalore-based architect. Bordered by a village road to the north and the main road at its western edge, the new house occupies one-fourth of the plot area.
To counteract the site’s southwestern orientation, Collage Architecture Studio made extensive use of verandahs, terraces, overhangs, and exterior landscaping to protect interior spaces from the harsh glare of the sun and facilitate cross breezes that create an expansive, airy atmosphere. “The most significant challenge,” recalls Valvatkar, “was to convince my parents to break away from the stereotype of a traditional Goan house while trying to achieve a marriage of the traditional and contemporary in the design.”
Studies in recess and relief
Looking above the main road as a landmark with punctured white walls and grey concrete bands, the front facade exhibits an interplay of solids and voids, periodically interspersed with louvered wooden fenestrations. A projecting terrace emphasises the edifice’s clean visual composition and draws the eye upon reaching the entrance.
A west-facing entry portal, beneath a polished concrete canopy, is flanked by a wicker planter with a cyan-painted wall serving as its backdrop. Ahead, a paved tulsi court ushers visitors towards a series of steps that lead to the main doorway.
The heart of the house
“The starting point was a courtyard which is the key feature of the house - Aayi comprises three courts representing a marriage of tradition with contemporary design”, shares Valvatkar. Running along one axis, these interconnected skylit courts on the ground floor monitor the home’s internal micro-climate alongside representing a transitivity of spaces.
The central court flows into a double-height informal living space which reveals itself as the heart of Aayi. This space serves as a multi-purpose gathering area for the family and it opens out to a south-facing yard dotted with palm trees. An overhead bridge provides a visual connection with the outdoors as acrylic tubes installed in the exposed concrete ceiling filter drops of light to rain into the space. Additionally, a staircase leading to the first floor is veiled by a white wall that features rectangular voids mimicking the facade motif.
A formal living area extends westwards from the double-height space with a deck overlooking a garden on the site's northwestern corner. Towards the other end, the kitchen and the dining area features large windows overlooking a third, more private court focused on a water feature. At the eastern end of the ground floor is a bedroom containing a verandah that opens into the yard, with views of the water body available from a four-poster bed.
Earthy tones for a sense of home
Above, two bedrooms at opposing ends are linked by the suspended bridge. Both rooms use wood textured finishes that contrast with the stone and concrete elements seen in other areas of the house. A family lounge lies at the eastern end of the floor whereas a terrace-cum-bar features a wooden swing.
As per the design team, the roof is twice crowned with self-rotating exhaust turbines to create a stack effect that allows hot air to escape while keeping the internal ecosystem cool. The rooms have French windows topped by louvers that facilitate ventilation.
A personification of our mothers
The design team refers the house as a personification of our mothers, ever beautiful with her many shades. Translating these colours for the family to experience in their living moments, an array of materials have been used to create a visual sense of completeness. Stone and concrete tile have been predominantly used in the flooring with occasional wooden accents and landscaped pockets; exposed concrete, wooden forms, metal railings and white painted surfaces compose the facade, ceilings, and walls, whereas the interiors favour soft pastels that reference Goa's Portuguese influences.
Aayi exudes lightness and a connection to the Earth - embodying the nurturing spirit of a mother that is integral to a sense of 'home'.
Name: Aayi Residence
Location: Goa, India
Site Area: 1440 sqm
Built Up Area: 280 sqm
Design Team: Ar. Swapnil Valvatkar, Ar. Rohit Mohite (Studio Detail)
Structural Design: Ramkumar
Landscape Design: Ar. Murali Spacelab
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)