by Jerry ElengicalDec 30, 2022
Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Alwar, Rajasthan, the Hybrid House is an example of architectural ingenuity that harmoniously blends tradition and modernity. Designed by Sketch Design Studio, this 2500 square feet holiday home for a well-travelled couple is reflective of their journeys and exemplifies how architectural elements from different parts of India can come together to create a unique living space.
The Hybrid House draws its inspiration from the architectural elements of the homes in Kerala, a region known for its distinctive design sensibilities. The house seamlessly incorporates local stone pillars for the verandah, along with features of traditional Kerala architecture. These elements are a deliberate attempt at paying homage to the couple's love for South Indian traditions and also to add a touch of nostalgia to the interior design.
The walls of the house are a combination of various materials and methods, each serving a specific purpose. Some walls are constructed using rammed earth, utilising mud sourced from the land opposite the site. This approach amplifies the earthen aesthetics of the house while also providing excellent insulation, keeping the house cool during scorching summers.
Other walls are built using red bricks in rat-trap bond with lime mortar, finished with traditional Rajasthani techniques known as "thaapi" and "kada”. These techniques ensure the walls are not just sturdy but also visually appealing. Lime plaster, used extensively, plays a crucial role in maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature.
Positioned strategically in the valley of the Aravalli mountains, the Hybrid House offers breath-taking views of the Aravalli ranges. The south-facing verandah not only provides shelter from the intense summer sun but also serves as a vantage point to enjoy the scenic beauty of the region.
To enhance functionality, the traditional central courtyard has been relocated towards the west, seamlessly connecting itself to the kitchen garden on the farm. This area serves as a private and relaxed open-to-sky family space that is perfectly suited for bonfires and barbecues during winters.
The genius of the design lies in adapting features typical of south Indian homes to Rajasthan's unique material resources, climate, and topography. The result is a house with rammed earth walls that exhibit a distinctive pink tone due to the higher clay content in Rajasthan soil. The house is organised around a west-facing courtyard which is optimal for the region's conditions.
The construction of the house is pivoted around an extensive use of locally sourced materials and skilled artisans. The roof over the verandah, for instance, is topped with Mangalore tiles and supported by pillars made from locally sourced sandstone, a departure from the wood typically used in South Indian homes. This approach not only adds authenticity to the design but is also sustainable and reduces the environmental footprint.
Shipra Singhania, the founder of Sketch Design Studio, emphasises, "We used materials and artisans found locally, so we did not have to transport anything from the south. The farthest we went was Gujarat to source Mangalore tiles."
Inside the Hybrid House, the furniture is a part of the habitants’ existing collection, contributing to a nostalgic 90s vibe. This carefully curated set of furniture echoes the external aesthetic and creates a relaxed and slow living atmosphere throughout the house, inviting residents and guests to unwind and enjoy the serene surroundings.
Three en-suite bedrooms provide comfortable living spaces, each designed with a keen eye for detail. The terracotta floors feature kolam, an intricate inlay created using rice flour, adding an artistic touch to the interiors. Cantilevered stairs connect the courtyard to the roof terrace, while offering an elevated view of the mountain landscape.
The Hybrid House incorporates traditional building techniques that predate the widespread use of cement. This approach not only pays homage to India's rich architectural heritage but also promotes sustainable and eco-friendly construction methods. Singhania reinforces, "The concept was to bring back traditional building techniques used by artisans much before cement came into existence."
The Hybrid House, a fusion of north and south Indian architectural traditions, stands as a reflection of its habitants’ love for their roots and their desire to create a haven that reflects their journey. This residence showcases the beauty of Indian architecture while highlighting the importance of sustainable construction practices and the utilisation of local resources. As a second home for a couple who values family, tradition, and nature, the Hybrid House is a offers comfort, elegance, and a connection to the land it stands on.
Name: The Hybrid House
Location: Alwar, Rajasthan, India
Architect: Sketch Design Studio
Design team: Shipra Singhania, Gargi Thakur, and Mohit Ganda
Structural consultant: 3D Construction
Rammed earth consultants: Design Undo
Year of completion: 2023