Matharoo Associates’ Plain Ties House is a concrete edifice tied by a circular core

With a scooped core ensconced by concentric free-standing walls in exposed concrete, the Plain Ties House in Surat, Gujarat, intends to revive a slice of familial living.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Jul 15, 2021

Delving on its unique, overwhelming site conditions: that of a burgeoning multi-storey apartment building to its north, and of a neighbouring residence to its east, the Plain Ties House by Matharoo Associates in Surat, Gujarat, attempts to look inward in search of that morsel of peace and privacy that becomes an increasingly priced possession in today’s urban living. It is located within a gated community, albeit with no intermediate compound walls, and a generous, shared community garden. Located towards the residence’s south side, the residential design and its internal planning is then geared towards finding the desired privacy inward, “turning its back” on the structures in its vicinity. This is manifested in the form of a circular core, the heart and hearth of the residence, with the other spaces occurring concentrically at first, to more linear, block-like in form as the on-ground footprint pans out from its almost cosmic, fixed-in-space central point. The choice of exposed concrete in this case to adorn the house’s exteriors and interiors, its very identity, not only helps in imparting the private residence an ageless yet metamorphic quality as the concrete weathers, but also accentuates this inward-looking, coiled philosophy that the house adapts.

  • The Plain Ties House in Surat, Gujarat, by Matharoo Associates attempts to revive multigenerational familial living within its concrete quarters | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    Owing to its burgeoning context, the house “turns its back” on its neighbouring structures, looking inward to its circular “core” Image: Dinesh Mehta
  • Surrounded by a tall apartment building and other adjacent buildings, the residential building attempts to define its own context | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    Surrounded by a tall apartment building and other adjacent buildings, the residential building attempts to define its own context Image: Dinesh Mehta

With its unyielding, and on instance, a bare, near-monolithic form closed off on three sides, the available landscape to the building, at least visually, is magnified toward the southern community garden. The central, circular volume of the house appears to be “scooped out” as opposed to an additive agglomeration of space in its layout, serving as the centre-stage for the architects’ intention to revive and retain multigenerational living under a single roof. This family living area is cocooned in by swirling concrete walls positioned along arcs of varying radii to facilitate different levels of enclosure for this sanctum of a space, further animated by a skylight on top. The space comes alive with the light patches created on ground by the sun travelling across the horizon, through the day and across seasons, casting shadows along this monolith. The circular space’s innermost walls “slide” along the core’s circumference to either connect or bifurcate the inner and outer, the private and the public.

  • The house’s circular core is central to the house’ planning, with all other spaces, residential and public, orbiting around it | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The house’s circular core is central to the house’ planning, with all other spaces, residential and public, orbiting around it Image: Dinesh Mehta
  • The innermost walls laid radially along arcs following the “core” can be moved to accommodate different degrees of exposure for this central living area | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The innermost walls laid radially along arcs following the “core” can be moved to accommodate different degrees of exposure for this central living area Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The central core is intended to, and bound to be a natural collision point for various members of the family to interact | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The central core is intended to, and bound to be a natural collision point for various members of the family to interact Image: Dinesh Mehta
  • The house impressively eliminates the need for corridors through the helical staircase and its aptly placed landings | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The house impressively eliminates the need for corridors through the helical staircase and its aptly placed landings Image: Dinesh Mehta

The spatial planning of the rest of the house is followed in an orbital manner along this central core. The need for passages and corridors is impressively eliminated by the helical staircase arising from and circling along the curved wall, leading to the upper floors of the house and doubling up as an overlooking library. Through its minimal landings providing direct access to each of the sleeping quarters for the family members, the house’s volumes come together seamlessly in the third dimension through deliberately interlocked masses, apart from being held by the core at the planar, two-dimensional level. In essence, the house is tied together by this staircase, according to the team at Matharoo Associates that is led by veteran Indian architect Gurjeet Singh Matharoo and Komal Matharoo, principal at the firm.

  • A helical staircase emanating from the core connects all the upper levels of the house | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    A helical staircase emanating from the core connects all the upper levels of the house Image: Dinesh Mehta
  • The concentric walls along the central core form dramatic spaces within the concrete residence | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The concentric walls along the central core form dramatic spaces within the concrete residence Image: Courtesy of Matharoo Associates

The Plain Ties House stands on deep foundations owing to the region’s predominant black cotton soil footing the house’s roots, accommodating a number of additional, ancillary functions – including a clinic, meditation space, temple, gym, activity room, and stores along with staff quarters, underground, in a large basement. This also helps in considerably reducing the on-ground footprint and overall mass of the structure, thus responding to the client’s brief in totality with a scale that is closer to and more tangible for a human. Springing from the same foundations, the concrete walls on the outside assume the appearance of freestanding planes, almost sculptural in visual and tactile quality. While these walls are tied together by thin horizontal weather shades, hand-laid terrazzo flooring is poured over the projecting sills and lintels, and is described as “flowing out” from these projections. The use of terrazzo as a material highlight, softer, muter in appearance when contrasted with the boldness of the generously used concrete, works toward enhancing the visual separation between the concrete planes, and serving as an additional bridge between the materiality of the inside of the house and the outside.

  • The extensive usage of exposed concrete in the building’s exteriors and interiors reflects its solidity and stability as a grounded structure | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The extensive usage of exposed concrete in the building’s exteriors and interiors reflects its solidity and stability as a grounded structure Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The interiors of the house are peppered with furniture and art in pop colours in stark contrast to the greys of the concrete | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The interiors of the house are peppered with furniture and art in pop colours in stark contrast to the greys of the concrete Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The brightly coloured dining area of the house | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    The brightly coloured dining area of the house Image: Dinesh Mehta

Likewise, the interior design of the house too adopts a scheme that contrasts with the more stable nature of concrete. Pop colours and bright hues fill the interior spaces through the upholstery it hosts and the art that adorns it, imparting a lively effervescence to the house, especially when staged in front of the greys of the concrete. The central core particularly comes under notice here, with its amber hued circular seating, designed to mimic the profile of the walls circumscribing it. The three generations of the family must find themselves at this activated core of the house by default, providing immense opportunities for familial living and communal activities. “In a time when the age-old tradition of joint family living is disintegrating, the house attempts to retain closely knit family ties”, states the design team at Matharoo Associates on the genesis of Plain Ties.

  • Location Plan, Plain Ties House | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    Location Plan, Plain Ties House Image: Courtesy of Matharoo Associates
  • Ground and First floor layouts | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    Ground and First floor layouts, Plain Ties House Image: Courtesy of Matharoo Associates
  • Section and elevations, Plain Ties House | Plain Ties House | Matharoo Associates | STIRworld
    Section and elevations, Plain Ties House Image: Courtesy of Matharoo Associates

Project Details

Name: Plain Ties House
Location: Surat, Gujarat
Architects: Matharoo Associates
Gross Built Area: 9,130 sq. ft.
Structural design: Rushabh Consultants
Interior design: Matharoo Associates
Landscape design: Matharoo Associates

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