by Zohra KhanDec 23, 2020
Ant Studio, led by architect Monish Siripurapu, revealed photographs of their recently finished project - a house in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand, set amid rolling mountains and lush terraces. ‘In the Mountains’, as called by the studio, has been designed as a four-bedroom dwelling where each space overlooks the views of the majestic Himalayas.
Inspired by the rugged beauty of the context, Siripurapu conceptualised a building that completely merges with the site and aligns with its natural contours. He proposed a middle path to convince the client who instead wanted a British bungalow with colonial influences that would stand apart in the neighbourhood.
“We were designing in nature, so it was imperative that the building is such that it belongs to the site, perhaps hugs it as closely as possible,” says Siripurapu, whose architectural practice fosters local materials and techniques in designing contemporary solutions.
“The project is very contextual. If somebody removes the building from the site and puts it somewhere else, it would not probably be able to match the ground,” he adds.
Various openings, courtyards and ramped terraces allow the north facing house to let in as much natural light as possible, while cutting off the chilly winds.
The interiors have been designed in a manner that one can capture the views of the surroundings from every corner of the house. Roofs, gardens and terraces extend from each room, where inhabitants accessing these spaces appear as if they are walking in the landscape.
Upon entering the building, one arrives at a semi-open lounge that includes the parking as well. An open terrace is laid ahead, framing a panoramic view of the surroundings. “We didn't want to let people enter into a building with a close environment. We wanted this transition to be very natural,” says Siripurapu.
Further, a lobby leads to the living and the dining room downstairs on one end, and the master bedroom on the other. The former features full height glazed windows and a skylight that fills the space with abundant sunlight. Dark wood flooring and nude shades of furniture complement the woody exteriors, while light blue toned walls find inspiration in the vast looming skies. Ahead of the living and dining is a private quarter, which has two bedrooms and one guestroom, each connected to a private balcony.
‘Local’ being an integral aspect of Ant studio reflects in the design of the house. For instance, the studio responded to the client’s wish of bringing something warm under the feet by using local wood ‘Tun’ in the flooring. Interestingly, the architects found a massive boulder on the site during construction, which they decided to retain near the entrance. Many such boulders from the site have been used to create the boundary walls as well as decorative elements within the interiors.
On being asked the challenges that the team faced while designing ‘In the Mountains’, Siripurapu said, “It is very difficult when you are building in a hilly terrain as compared to a flat site. One needs to be extremely careful on how to touch the ground. The climate was also a massive challenge as nearly five to six months in a year, construction is not possible. Additionally, we had to design the roof in a way that not only it follows the terrain, but also ensures that during the rain, water does not collect on the site. We wanted the flow of the water exactly the way it was before. The contours, the terraces and the overall layout was designed keeping in mind how the water will flow through the space”.
We also ask if he would like to revise any particular aspect of the project now, to which he responds saying, “Even though I am happy how the building has emerged, but I would like to use more contextual materials, especially in the facade to add more volume to the idea that the building not only blurs the lines between the landscape and the built fabric, but also presents itself as a habitat nirvana that the client wished for”.