by Jerry ElengicalSep 08, 2021
The fluidity and dynamism inherent within the classical elements of nature are the qualities lost in the current urban paradigm of grid street layouts and prosaic urban housing. In the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, this conviction served as a core design parameter for local firm DA Studios, when they were called to design a joint home for the families of three brothers back in 2018. Provided with a site located at the termination of a dead-end street, boxed in by upcoming residential towers, the architects saw an opportunity to subvert established norms in the area’s architectural language. Drawing from the slow, striated movements of glacial ice, they envisioned a respite from the restlessness of urban India.
"Under immense pressures a diamond is shaped. Under similar circumstances a profound clarity comes to the human mind," mentions DA Studios. Equating this statement with the challenge they faced, the architects sculpted RH21's erratic, jagged residential design as a response to the chaotic changes of its nearby context. Once relatively barren, the surrounding areas have seen marked developments in preceding years. The rate of the new alterations to the zone’s urban fabric have steadily accelerated throughout the duration of RH21’s design and construction. On a tight plot, the residential architecture features jutting planes and projecting volumes, with a strong emphasis on diagonal and horizontal motion, as opposed to the verticality of the surrounding development.
Another prominent influence on the design, as per the designers, was the work of Russian abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky, specifically, a visual metaphor for the notion of genius and its relation to spiritual experience specified in his book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, published in 1912. Kandinsky depicted this concept with the aid of a moving acute-angled triangle divided into various strata by horizontal lines. He further illuminated the drawbacks of being truly exceptional, particularly how the esotericity of such an individual’s work reflects in the way they often conspicuously stand apart from their artistic contemporaries, for better or worse. He further uses the slow movement of the triangle - both forwards and upwards - as an analogy for the gradual evolution of artistic innovation.
The pertinence of this metaphor may be unresolved in certain respects, but the concept of artistic esotericity might relate to the uncertain deconstructivist tendencies seen in the rhythmic forms of the residence’s façade design. Strikingly different from the disorder of construction sites in its vicinity, the home is an evocative yet irresolute mass that means to contrast and contradict - advancing the development of the surrounding urban context along a new trajectory.
Exerting its own unique vocabulary, that of fragmentation, oblique lines, unexpected deviations, and dynamic balance, the design addresses conflicts of space and movement. The home’s massing emerges from a rectilinear corner at the plot’s rear, growing more warped and angular as it moves towards the front of the home. DA Studios relays, “The architectonics of the home reacted to not just the requirements sprung from the cultural need of the client but also contextual needs, forcing and moving each plane, room, volume, and line to create a reactionary architecture of its own.”
Between a narrow row of buildings, a textured gate slides away to reveal the entrance canopy, with wood-panelled cladding on its interior faces. The canopy is held up by slanted members that intersect against a backdrop of jagged surfaces. Above, a parametrically designed screen of customised hexagonal thermowood elements, mounted on a metal frame, screens the niched glass openings of the home while providing a contrast in texture to the smooth cement finish.
Adjacent to the main entrance, hidden behind the canopy, is a swimming pool with water cascading down towards it from a fountain mounted within its back wall. Behind this is a verandah, projecting into a garden with an irregularly-shaped gazebo covering it.
Inside, the layout presents itself as a sequence of sharp-cornered spaces, with an element of surprise at every turn, mimicking the motion of the façade. Communal areas, including the three living spaces and combined dining room, overlook the staggered multilevel courtyards that punctuate the structure’s otherwise hermetic volumes, periodically offering light, air, and flashes of green.
Even the home's seven bedrooms, spread over three levels, generally rely on these voids as a link to the world outside. The dramatic qualities of the façade also extend to the interior design, particularly in the array of balconies, staircases, and foyers that stitch functional areas together. Other program areas hosted within the residence include a kitchen, gym, prayer room, lounge, play area, and an expansive study space on the top floor.
Oozing theatricality and an air of defiance with regards to the order imposed in contemporary housing developments, RH21 presents a solution that is intriguing yet perplexing in nearly every aspect, asserting its presence and making a statement that is difficult to ignore.
Location: Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Site Area: 940 sqm
Built-up Area: 819 sqm
Architect: DA Studios
Principal: Chaitanya DK
Team: Chaitanya DK, Pradeepthi IS, Rahul Ramini, Vinaya Kumar G, Subhash, Arun
Structural Consultant: Urban Shastra Smart Build Pvt. Ltd.
Interior Design: Aamir And Hameeda Interior Designers
Landscape Design: Naveen Associates