by Anmol AhujaJul 15, 2021
A house is made a home by the people who inhabit it. A house nurtures its inhabitants through its planned design and sublime architecture. A wrongly placed window is as detrimental to a dwelling as a stubborn habit that harms one’s character. A house sans plants, natural light or ventilation might as well be called a dingy chicken coop. Such is the therapeutic nature of homes that if designed in the most optimal manner, acts as a catalyst for one’s improvement of health - regardless of how big or small the residence is. It is a place we all come back to, a physical manifestation of comfort and security.
Founded by principal architects Chinmay Laiwala, Jigar Asarawala and Tarika Asarawala in 2011, Neogenesis + Studi0261 is an architectural firm based in Surat, Gujarat, India. Collectively called Studio Neogenesis, the ever-evolving local practice embodies the bond formed between architecture, contemporary culture and technology, with a commitment to the essential value of design that enhances the quality of day to day living. “In all of our works, we strive to create an authentic ‘sense of place’,” they affirm with pride. During their practice of nine years, Neogenesis + Studi0261 have worked on more than 60 projects in varying fields such as master planning, commercial development, residential architecture and interior design.
From verdant terraces to lavish weekend homes, here are four key residences in Surat, designed by Studio Neogenesis, that capture enduring, contemporary design set in indigenous techniques and locally available materials.
1. Sarpanch House
Stacked boxes with external terraces inform the architecture of their latest residential project in Talangpore village. Built across 535 sqm, the contemporary dwelling is designed for the head of the village, the Sarpanch, who had a simple request of wanting his house to stand apart from other residences of the area, with privacy intact.
Sarpanch house is planned around a spacious, double height, central courtyard lit with skylights, with a large living and dining space on the ground level. An office and other living areas on the upper level are accessed by a large twisting steel staircase, which are given privacy through thinly stripped wooden battens that cover its external walls. Two bedrooms on the ground floor, three on the first and one on the second floor are all accompanied by elegant washrooms and wardrobes.
The interiors are painted in muted shades of beige and grey, with wooden elements and coloured furniture refreshing it. The courtyard space is peppered with leafy plants that elevate the beige stripped walls along with the tall, wood and glass accordion door that screens the space.
This family residence personifies Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s maxim, ‘less is more’ in its minimal design. Built in impressive six months and completed in late 2019, Sattva presents an expansive, open plan design in its limited 83.6 sqm area. “The task at hand was double-ended. We were operating within the constraints of limited space but had to ensure that the design of the home maximised the client’s quality of life, and it mattered how each nook responded to their needs. Multifunctional and flexible was the route to take,” shares Neogenesis + Studi0261.
Minimal vases sit atop marble topped round wooden tables that are placed in the uncluttered living room with a suspended modern swing. Coral pink cushions on low, custom wooden furniture are set against restrained white walls cladded with umber teak grooved panels. These statement walls are followed in the kitchen and dining area as well, along with beige hangings that contrast the cool grey Kota flooring across the house. The two-bedroom apartment is earthy, spacious and intimate and is rendered in warm, wood tones. Each room is also equipped with tiny potted plants that bring greenery inside.
3. Pool House
This plush weekend getaway boasts of wide-open, sepia toned spaces that are centered around a shimmering pool, much to the envy of onlookers. The 297 sqm home enjoys ample natural light and panoramic views of the city, and is located on the seventh floor of a high-rise structure in an upscale residential neighbourhood.
“We saw great potential in the idea of opening up the structural framework of the former design, letting the niches breathe and working with the pivotal pool feature in the design,” says Asarawala and Laiwala. The original number of bedrooms was brought down from four to three, in order to add lavish dressing areas and bathrooms to each.
After demolishing the internal walls, furniture and minimal screens were employed to divide the space, keeping the openness of the house intact. The living room, dining and kitchen form a homogenous central area, with the shimmering pool as the ‘nucleus’ of the dwelling. Reclaimed wood, Italian marble, lime putty finish walls and earthy, pastel hues with grey undertones claim the Pool House, presenting a luxurious residence seeped in comfort and warmth.
4. Jungalow House
One of their older residential designs, this dwelling is an alchemy of urban farming and the built form, a specific design for an agriculturist and his family. The living spaces face a lush, double height central courtyard embellished with creepers and climbers and lined with retractable glass walls. This green curtain acts as a shield against the severe sunlight and heat accumulated on the house’s west side. A circular glazed opening at its top brings in filtered light into the interiors.
Jungalow House is named such because of the deliberate insertion of greens as a remedy for Gujarat’s dry climate. Like an indoor jungle, the colour palette of the residence comprises grey, shades of sienna and an abundance of green. An open plan living room arranged together with a lounge and dining area takes up most of the ground floor, which can be accessed by steps that lead into a trellis lined foyer. Circular openings inside the bedrooms bring in natural light and overlooks the incorporated garden.
A family room surrounded by three spacious bedrooms is placed on the first floor, which is accessed by a flight of stairs that go up from the dining area. They continue onto the next floor that host two more bedrooms, fixed with wooden wardrobes, minimal bedside tables and king size beds that provide a warm contrast to the dark grey flooring.
Neogenesis + Studi0261 is currently working on a variety of projects spread across religious, institutional and high-rise residences. “We strive to work on the same mantra we have been working on until now, and embrace it even further in our designed spaces,” they conclude.