by Meghna MehtaMay 22, 2019
Mumbai-based architecture firm SPASM Design Architects recently completed a fort style dwelling in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, for a globe-trotting couple. The client commissioned Sanjeev Panjabi and Sangeeta Merchant, the firm’s principal architects, for the design of their new home after having noticed the work by SPASM Design way back in 2014.
The project called the Black Bastion House is situated at the end of a tertiary street on Race Course Road in Eastern Coimbatore. The region has a mild climate throughout the year, with balmy breezes coming from the Nilgiri mountain range in southern India.
The couple’s design requirements were simple - a four-bedroom house with a single large green courtyard. Explaining the design process to STIR, Panjabi says their approach was to make a home which is both sustainable and low-maintenance, and provides a unique living experience to the family. The first proposal itself was principally accepted and the design developed thereon.
The name ‘Black Bastion House’ is an architectural interpretation of the word bastion, which means ‘a part of the wall of a castle that sticks out from it in order to protect it’. The design encompasses two forms of fortification on two corners and the allied spaces nestled between these, along with a courtyard that binds the entire configuration. “The body of the build is basically two black bastions of dark local granite stone, with an airy pavilion like double height living space, cradled in between,” explains Merchant. This zoning also aids the division of the private, semi-private and social spaces. The bastions hold the smaller private spaces like kitchen, gym and bedrooms. The open pavilion-like glazed volume inserted in between includes the main double height living space, which Merchant describes as, ‘lofty and loosely trapped’.
This single-family home is characterised by the two bastions made up of dark local granite stone. The visual impact of the house is balanced with the scale, punctures and the placement of windows together with closed and open spaces. The dynamic planning of this juxtaposition creates airy private spaces and has been a key strength of SPASM’s designs, which can also be seen in one of their earlier projects, the Parikrama House.
The living area is edged with custom-made MS windows that form a diaphanous envelope that shapes itself to the existing trees. Discussing the choice and use of the materials, Panjabi explains why SPASM chose the black granite, “Historically, stone buildings have evidently performed better than buildings built in other materials. Stone, the local granite is highly sustainable due to its direct use from quarry to site application, lowered maintenance costs over the years, sheer endurance against elements and performance as a thermally stable material.”
The garden becomes the focus of the design, with a U-shaped plan overlooking the green space. The custom-made metal windows with bespoke brass hardware, oil polished doors made of salvaged wood in elegant proportions, and spacious rooms with double height lend the home a sophisticated appearance. The use of local materials gives the home a different identity - the private sections are clad with a solid material while the other spaces are more fluid, open and porous.
The movement through the house has been thoroughly orchestrated such that the connect with nature and the elements of the built form are seamless. Merchant says, “An astute sense of serenity has been sought for. The space turns into a lantern like entity allowing patterned shadows of the sun and leaves within and transforms at twilight. It’s a delight when a pride of peacocks visits.”
The Black Bastian House by SPASM Design not only seeks to create a refined understated elegant atmosphere for the family, but also uses natural, sustainable materials to create an elegant architecture, bringing strong concepts and developing them into contemporary designs with simple yet effective means.
Name: Black Bastion House
Location: Race Course Road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Built area: 11,500 sqft
Construction time: 2 years 9 months
Architects: SPASM Design
Design team - Sangeeta Merchant, Sanjeev Panjabi, Divyesh Kargathra, Mansoor Kudalkar, Jyotiraditya Shah, Vishal Thakur