Gadi House by PMA Madhushala explores the strength of stone and the lightness of brick

PMA Madhushala attempts a sensitive take on vernacular Indian architecture with the Gadi House, its perforated brick and stone skin enveloping multiple petite courtyards inside.

by Jincy IypePublished on : Nov 01, 2022

"We always think of a house as a live entity," says Prasanna Morey, Founder and Principal Architect of India-based architecture and design studio PMA Madhushala— who find fulfilment and purpose with the design process more than the final product. Their range of built structures, especially dwellings, that ensue from this compelling but benign design philosophy is nothing short of wonderful and are rooted in earthy simplicity. With its latest project, the Gadi House, PMA Madhushala showcases how vernacular architectural history can be succinctly applied to a modern structure, without blatant imitation or overshadowing each other, forming a symbiotic, nourishing planning of shared spaces.

Gadi House by PMA Madhushala draws from vernacular Indian architecture, specific to the state of Maharashtra | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Gadi House by PMA Madhushala draws from vernacular Indian architecture, specific to the state of Maharashtra Image: Hemant Patil

The residential architecture plays unhesitantly with the strength of stone and the lightness of brick, witnessed at the onset, by its prominent, lyrical masonry skin. The façade design is articulated in choreographed perforations in brick, arranged to create wavy patterns at the top, a solid grey stone base, and Corbusier windows jutting out for relief. Stone masonry for the entrance is given a hint of colour by means of soft pink grouting, removing certain blocks in between to create the desired perforated pattern.

A stone bridge acts as the entrance to Gadi House | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
A stone bridge acts as the entrance to Gadi House Image: Hemant Patil

The clients, two brothers and their family, as present heirs, sought to carry forward their honour and lineage of being Maratha sardars, by creating a built identity for themselves in the neighbourhood. "For their honour and societal standing they wished for an ornament of pride, standing strong in their ancestral grounds, beyond the crowds of the city, and secure as a fortress,” shares the firm based in Pune, India.

The distinct façade design is articulated in perforated brick and stone | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The distinct façade design is articulated in perforated brick and stone Image: Hemant Patil

Generations have been living in traditional Wadas, developing a lifestyle worthy of similar comprehension of spaces with protected envelopes, internal courtyards, large and open external areas as well as areas for farming. "Accordingly, they wanted an architectural manifestation on a 1.2 acre of land, for their collective family to create an inward environment which will be independent and self-sustain its existence,” they continue.

  • Site development | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Site development Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala
  • Development of elevation | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Development of elevation Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala

"The design philosophy draws inspiration from the regional house form called Gadi, its elements, spatial planning and details of ornamentations and fenestrations. A Gadi is like a small fortress with thick walls secured from the outside, with internal courts, balconies, and common areas that create an interesting hierarchy of open, semi-open and enclosed spaces. All these elements are then redefined to find solutions that cater to the present modern needs and construction systems,” shares Morey.

The organic shaped staircase rendered in maya blue ferro cement | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The organic shaped staircase rendered in maya blue ferro cement Image: Hemant Patil
Inside the Gadi House | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Inside the Gadi House Image: Hemant Patil

The ensuing design for the dwelling comprised a thick wall secured from the outside, with habitable, living areas enveloped within. The residential architecture and design intent thus, followed an attempt to secure a link between their traditional, age-old understanding of vernacular architecture and the requirements of contemporary living.

In this process, where architecture serves present needs while imbibing traditional understandings, the building emerges as a timeless entity. – Prasanna Morey, Founder and Principal Architect, PMA Madhushala
The dwelling is realised in a local materiality of brick and stone | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The dwelling is realised in a local materiality of brick and stone Image: Hemant Patil

Five years in the making, the Gadi House was realised in a whopping budget of INR 21 million. The thick envelope of walls made of stone and brick encompasses the dwelling’s programme to provide security, while celebrating the nuances of daily life within a homely interior design. The structural, material, and aesthetic characteristics of stone and brick architecture were heavily studied and considered with respect to traditional as well as modern understanding. Morey comments on the adopted materiality, "Brick being a light and feminine material tops the stone at the bottom as a muscular base."

Closeup of the honeycomb feature | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Closeup of the honeycomb feature Image: Hemant Patil
A skylight fitted atop the blue staircase channels in natural light | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
A skylight fitted atop the blue staircase channels in natural light Image: Hemant Patil

A paved garden leads onto an ash grey stone bridge and into the house, connecting with the muscular stone base. Openings at the lower-level cast in stone were created with respect to the width of the horizontal bands. The amalgamation of both materials is further enhanced with openings made like "honeycomb loop structure with brick curves," giving the entire building a "crown like appearance."

Geometric windows and petite balconies in concrete jut out from the curving skin | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Geometric windows and petite balconies in concrete jut out from the curving skin Image: Hemant Patil

The employed honeycomb geometry provides flexibility, driving the placement and size of openings according to the internal functions. “The entire house is a load-bearing structure made with concrete blocks. It has a hybrid beamless filler-slab system with concrete blocks set in a repeating grid of 1.2 x 1.2 m," the Indian architects explain.

  • The interiors are organised in a cruciform plan, leaving the corners open | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    The interiors are organised in a cruciform plan, leaving the corners open Image: Hemant Patil
  • The curving staircase connects all levels and areas of the house | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    The curving staircase connects all levels and areas of the house Image: Hemant Patil

The spatial organisation of the residential design draws inspiration from the Khand, a module derived from single person functional spaces in traditional Indian architecture in the state of Maharashtra; where a set of proportions and grid were put in place, that could be modified to different spaces and their allied purposes. These modules are then arranged in a cruciform, retaining the corners as breather extensions that are open to the sky and specifically articulated to create different experiences catering to individual functions. These repeated modules then transform into ascending volumes as levels, transitioning with steps that morph along the functions, bound together as amorphous entities into the vertical space.

The sculptural blue staircase is connected to one of the four courtyards of the Gadi House | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The sculptural blue staircase is connected to one of the four courtyards of the Gadi House Image: Hemant Patil

Habitable spaces of the residential design are provided relief with the inclusion of four open courtyard designs, inserted to enhance cross visibility, ventilation, and an influx of natural light. The central one with the Maya blue staircase creates a subtle contrast to the rest of the red brick and grey stone materiality and is connected to all levels of the house at all times. Ferro cement was used to create the sculptural staircase design, to form a single, homogeneous element.

The irregular perforations create streams of light to perfume the open kitchen garden | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The irregular perforations create streams of light to perfume the open kitchen garden Image: Hemant Patil

The lively, organic stairwell and courtyard space are given a name, the Brahma Court, as it channels a "piece of the sky" into the dwelling through a skylight placed at the very top. The core filled with light essentially becomes the heart of the communal spaces, twisting at leisure to reach the skies, whilst being grounded to all the levels of the house.

Diagramatic representation of the Brahma Courtyard | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Diagramatic representation of the Brahma Courtyard Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala

The Gadi House boasts of integrating traditional construction practices with heavy involvement of local artisans and workers, with materials crafted on site. This led to PMA Madhushala adopting a hybrid-built methodology, and a palette comprising natural and local materials, in tandem with modern concrete blocks, used appropriately as solutions for different structural implications. 

The pocket courtyards | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The pocket courtyards Image: Hemant Patil

According to PMA Madhushala, the thick, external load-bearing wall has been designed to resist seismic forces and extreme climatic conditions, while the homely internal volume employs reinforced concrete blocks (RCB), for ease of construction and minimising material usage, avoiding offsets from slabs and walls.

The terrace | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
The terrace Image: Hemant Patil

In search of a timeless, sustainable design, the Gadi House is adapted to withstand generations, with passive systems that maintain suitable living conditions inside while minimising energy usage. "It is sensitive to its natural environment, is designed and oriented accordingly and implies maximum use of natural techniques for light, ventilation as well as water and energy conservation,” the architects add.

  • Mezzanines are created with bespoke furniture | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Mezzanines are created with bespoke furniture Image: Hemant Patil
  • One of the bedrooms open to a courtyard | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    One of the bedrooms open to a courtyard Image: Hemant Patil

This is achieved through wind towers incorporated in the stone architecture, aiding natural cooling, which is further enhanced by multiple internal courts with plants and openings that produce the 'venturi effect', with negative and positive air pressure zones. The building furthers its sustainability credentials by consuming energy from photovoltaic solar panels placed on sloping roofs and the parking shed. A rainwater harvesting system has been incorporated along with proper sewage treatment, providing for the water usage of the kitchen and pocket gardens.

Intermediate circulatory spaces are created to pause | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
Intermediate circulatory spaces are created to pause Image: Hemant Patil

PMA Madhushala concludes by saying, "The house can be regarded as a flow of everyday household activities from top to bottom with intermediate pause points and celebratory spaces bound together in a symphony of the traditional and modern built environment with a sustainable and independent living approach.” The petite internal courtyards and balconies create small, joyful pockets, linking the open, semi-open and private areas of the house.

Erecting houses is a noble architectural act, much like building places of worship and well-being. These go beyond mere utilitarian or aesthetic interventions, and for the same reason, require utmost care and indulgence towards the users’ needs. PMA Madhushala achieved purity in spirit through brick, stone, and humanness with the Gadi House, establishing habitable, emotional spaces filled with warmth and light by means of local materials and typologies. The project revels in humility, modernity, and tradition, in comfort and in function, growing steadfastly into a family abode by setting itself amicably in a rural context.

  • Site planning | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Site planning Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala
  • Basement, ground, first and roof level plans | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Basement, ground, first and roof level plans Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala
  • Sections | Gadi House by PMA Madhushala | STIRworld
    Sections Image: Courtesy of PMA Madhushala

Project Details

Name: Gadi House
Location: Talegaon Dabhade, Maharashtra, India
Area: 4,500 m sqm (Site Area); 650 sqm (Built-up Area)
Year of completion:
Client: Chetan Khandge
Architect: PMA madhushala
Design team: Naresh Shivakoti, Darshan, Divya Jyoti, Prasanna Morey
Structural Designer: Subduction Zone Consultants
Stone work: Dnyaneshwar Dhotre and team
Brick Work: Shakeel and team
IPS Flooring: Bhagwandas and team

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