Ksaraah by Taliesyn is an ever-morphing exhibit of its concrete volumes and voids

Designed as a weekend retreat in rural Bengaluru and framed against expansive views of the Savandurga hill, the airy, ‘transparent’ residence reimagines living amid nature’s embrace.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Jul 26, 2021

Away from a dynamic, nearly all-dictating urban context that outlines the modern metropolis, and in turn the very character of modern residential design in these cities, the act of architecture in places where nature seems to be the dictatorial force subsumes very interesting dimensions. While the discussion on “second homes” and their need in a post-pandemic world picks up with respect to the landscape of Indian architecture, there can be no denying that escapes, especially in the age of remote working, are rather customary. While tourists flock to the hills in a bout of "revenge-travel" following the second wave, enforcing a counter-productive narrative, having a personal monsoon retreat atop a hillock for one’s share of the promised natural land and a lung-full of clean air is certainly something that doesn’t hurt. The Ksaraah residence, straight out of an AirBnB postcard listing, accomplishes just that for its architect duo, Shalini Chandrashekar and GS Mahaboob Basha, founders of Bengaluru-based architecture and design studio, Taliesyn.

  • The residence is designed to be porous and open, merging the exterior landscape and the interiors to the comfort of its residents | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The residence is designed to be porous and open, merging the exterior landscape and the interiors to the comfort of its residents Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The secondary residential quarters of the residence | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The secondary residential quarters of the residence Image: Harshan Thomson

The house presents a particularly persevering architectural statement on hermit-like living with its extremely minimalistic form, both in volume and aesthetic, and the direct connection with nature it seeks to invoke, setting up a rather open footprint on contoured land, sans boundaries and fences. Even apart from visual borders in the form of such “restraints”, plain walls are a rare occurrence in this residence. A non-invasive intervention by all means, one could almost comment that the structure was formed to be inside-out, properly blurring the boundaries between its airy, earthy interiors, and inspiring outdoors. Its strict linearity may have been imposing on the land’s superfluous contouring, but a measured restriction on the rise of the edifice and a relatively open layout ensure otherwise, providing its residents with spaces that provide “limitless opportunities to thrive”.

  • The primary residence on site is earmarked by a double-height lofted arch, beveled at the edges | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The primary residence on site is earmarked by a double-height lofted arch, beveled at the edges Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The ground floor of this structure houses communal facilities to enhance interaction and connection with nature for its residents | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The ground floor of this structure houses communal facilities to enhance interaction and connection with nature for its residents Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The open layout of the residence on-ground is punctuated with sit-out spaces | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The open layout of the residence on-ground is punctuated with sit-out spaces Image: Harshan Thomson

Ksaraah is weightlessly perched atop the site’s highest level, capturing breath-taking views of its peaceful environ, establishing its own horizon. The settlement comprises essentially three structures: the primary residence; an expansive, open pavilion designed as a multipurpose hall;, and another residential quarter with a remarkably similar architectural language as the primary residential block, segregated in the third dimension by a stone feature wall, also marking the transition between the broadly public and private zones of the house. The primary residence is an edifice that seems to interpret the grandeur of monsoon palaces to its own modernistic exposed-concrete language, resting on a pair of minimally curved, bevelled arches. Lofted to the top of its significant overhang, spanning an expansive column and wall-free layout on-ground, the space, harbouring a living, dining, and sit-out area, opens up new avenues for and invites communal interaction: the perfect spot for an evening tea, ephemeral discussions, and the seemingly simpler joys of life. The master bedroom, its ensuite bathing chamber, and a rustic, private study lounge occupy the first floor.

  • The development’s heart is an 80-feet long central open pavilion | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The development’s heart is an 80-feet long central open pavilion Image: Harshan Thomson
  • Designed as a congregational space, the pavilion is intended to host dance recitals and other socio-cultural activities, or simply as a space for an evening soiree for the residents | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    Designed as a congregational space, the pavilion is intended to host dance recitals and other socio-cultural activities, or simply as a space for an evening soiree for the residents Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The peripheral circular columns are a nod to neighbouring plantations on the estate | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The peripheral circular columns are a nod to neighbouring plantations on the estate Image: Harshan Thomson

The upper levels of the house seek to commune in dialogue with the established language of the residential design through subtle contrasts: the arcs as opposed to the unyielding linearity of the rest of the residence, and an envelope in oak timber in the form of fenestrations that ensconce the quarters' perimeter. Tall, louvered windows run through the entire length of the raised mass of the primary and secondary residences, allowing users to not only control daylight and ventilation, but also to act on the involuntary relationship between the residents and their natural surroundings. 

  • The swimming pool acts as a natural reserve for landscaping on the site and is termed as the epicentre of the development | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The swimming pool acts as a natural reserve for landscaping on the site and is termed as the epicentre of the development Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The interiors of the residential structure are minimally designed, with long wooden louvres enveloping the sleeping quarters | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The interiors of the residential structure are minimally designed, with long wooden louvres enveloping the sleeping quarters Image: Harshan Thomson
  • The private study lounge on the first floor | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    The private study lounge on the first floor Image: Harshan Thomson
  • Everything from the choice of materials, fittings, and even toiletries is a conscious choice in longevity for the house | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    Everything from the choice of materials, fittings, and even toiletries is a conscious choice in longevity for the house Image: Harshan Thomson

A swimming pool near the residence's foot is termed to be the place’s “epicentre”, harbouring a slim external staircase that connects the two levels to its right, and the stone feature wall to its left, a third intervention in the house’s almost perennial material palette. The public sphere of the house’s layout is enlivened by its very heart, the central, 80-feet long pavilion, created in almost rhythmic alterations. A supple nod to the surrounding plantations with its circular columns, the pavilion is but a dynamic space with a very peaceful character, with the space comprising as little as a flat concrete slab supported over peripheral colonnades. Designed as a “dynamic arena”, the recreational space with a rare open, inviting energy is open to all, a statement on the adaptability and multi-faceted utility of the place, intended to bring the local community together. Like a temple’s Mandapam characterised by the surrounding columns, the pavilion is democratically put to use as a venue for dance and music recitals in the evening, and as a local school and venue for the village’s annual function Jatre during the pandemic.

Nature is the protagonist in the Ksaraah residence | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
Nature is the protagonist in the Ksaraah residence Image: Harshan Thomson

A living breathing entity, continually transforming with the landscape, seasons, and even the diurnal cycles, the house seems to be aware of its identity as a rejuvenating sanctum, while aspiring to more through its connections with nature and its neighbouring community. “Nature is the protagonist here,” as stated by Shalini Chandrashekar, one half of the Taliesyn duo and designer of the Ksaraah house, in conversation with STIR. The resultant spaces emerging from the design double up as blank canvases: for the residents to engage with vitality and creativity, with an added edge for responsibility in construction and material choices. Stones like Sadarahalli and Pink Magadi, sourced and cut from nearby quarries, complete the textural motifs of the residence, and a palette is created keeping in mind that they age gracefully and require minimal maintenance. The interiors too, composed of khadi beddings, soft furnishings, oak wood, down to even the selection of toiletries and Kansa crockery, become a celebration of traditional Indian craftsmanship.

  • On-ground layout for Tsaraah | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    On-ground layout for Ksaraah Image: Courtesy of Taliesyn
  • Longitudinal section through the residence | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    Longitudinal section through the residence Image: Courtesy of Taliesyn
  • North elevation, Ksaraah | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    North elevation, Ksaraah Image: Courtesy of Taliesyn
  • East elevation, Ksaraah | Ksaraah Residence | Taliesyn | STIRworld
    East elevation, Ksaraah Image: Courtesy of Taliesyn

“The building will essentially disappear once the surrounding vegetation grows to its full height. The concrete will also age beautifully. Daily, through the wooden louvre windows, and as seasons pass, the Ksaraah residence comes alive with the varying patterns of the sun on the ground. The residence will keep on changing through time,” states a palpably eclectic Chandrashekar on the temporal patina of Ksaraah, intended to develop over ages.

Project Details

Name: Ksaraah
Location: Bangalore Rural
Typology: Residential retreat (Weekend Home)
Architects: Taliesyn Design and Architecture
Design Team: Shalini Chandrashekar, GS Mahaboob Basha (Principal architects), Siri, Yatheesh Kune, Vishnu Naidu
Site Area: 4.00 Acres
Built-Up Area: 487.00 sq.m. (5249.00 sq.ft.)     
Structural Consultants: Sigma Consultants
Electrical, Landcsape, Plumbing, and PMC Consultants: Taliesyn
Civil Works: SS Constructions

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