by Aarthi MohanNov 09, 2023
Manjodaya House is formally a single residence, containing two individual homes belonging to a set of brothers in Bengaluru. Set in the city’s outskirts, the structure’s context represents an India that is fast changing from a rural to urban character. As a response, the building is accented with terracotta screens, adapted to suit its modern style. The residential architecture of the overall building reflects the client's preferences and tells of the relationship between the brothers—closely bonded yet perfectly distinct, similar in appearance yet varied in experience.
The linear property provided a compelling opportunity to set both homes at the rear, creating a dramatic approach to the living quarters through a scenic walkway of lush native planting. This sense of journey, where the spaces reveal themselves one after the other is carried through into the homes. The private residences were designed by Studio Ecumene in Bengaluru, a multi-disciplinary firm with a variety of experienced professionals. Venkatesh Habib, one of the lead architects of the project, describes their approach to its design in this way, "All of us were very clear that the landscape had to reflect the native material palette. The idea was to create a home that was luxurious in terms of space but understated in its expression.”
On arrival, the external facade accurately sums up the material palette used in the entire project. Grey walls are contrasted against the vivid colour and patterns of the terracotta jaali used as screens. The entrance leads to a large central lawn, flanked by the two homes on either side. The clubhouse building lies opposite and between the two houses, containing the common parking area and the fitness centre. A large property is a luxury in Bengaluru, thus reinforcing the architects’ desire to create something singular and of lasting value, resulting in the creation of the lawn at the heart of the plot. Vaastu principles also drove the spatial planning of the home. The garden was developed in association with landscape architects from Studio Confluence who weaved hardscape elements into the grass, creating interest. The clubhouse unit contains various recreation spaces on the upper level. Full-height vision panels have been provided here to connect the garden visually. Another unique feature of this residential design is the extendable living room of the main home that connects the two buildings, thereby converting the space into a multipurpose hall, when required.
The home in the southeast is horizontal and of more approachable scale than the home in the southwest, with noticeably taller volumes. In the southwest, the second home features a double-height car porch in Black Lapatro granite flooring, below a terrace roof garden. This terrace garden comprises a completely secluded lawn bounded by planting on all sides. The extension of a roof structure with open-to-sky panels above the terrace garden adds volume to the home and balances it with the horizontal profile of the home in the southeast. “Our abiding focus has been to bring well-being through well-designed spaces. We focus on the context—not just the physical aspect of the site but also the psychological frame of the clients and what their well-being would mean to them. The architectural language that we use would then be a result of that process,” explains Habib.
This same reasoning has been translated into the interior design of the home as well. A careful selection of materials was made in order to amplify the already spacious environment of the rooms internally.
The use of bright white paint on all internal walls visually extends the already large spaces into seemingly vast expanses. Warmth and scale are then brought in through the addition of wood, also used extensively, mostly on ceilings. An intricately carved wooden wall in the living room is one of the home’s focal elements, as is the steel and wood-clad staircase, made in metal, featuring minimal steel beams for support. "Right from the beginning, our strategy was to play with the volumes of various spaces put together in an interesting manner that not only connected various spaces of the home to one another but also created an interesting drama where light played the lead role," mentions Habib.
Passive design aspects, key in maintaining sustainable homes, are first addressed through the provision of well-lit rooms. All windows are well-shaded to reduce the need for air-conditioning in the home, although it receives plenty of natural light. The terrace flooring was also completed in heat-reflective tiles to aid in keeping the home cool naturally. In terms of materiality and tactile experience, the jaali work, formed by various arrangements of terracotta jaali tiles on a metal structure is prominent. The right patterns were hard to achieve, yet worth it for the captivating shadows they cast, with an interesting interplay of light and shade. The dramatic yet warm character of the interiors is achieved by contrasting the smooth white walls with the textures of wood and terracotta. The pathway too, is uniquely detailed using a combination of the locally available Sadarahalli granite and grass pavers, specifically chosen to increase the water permeability of the ground.
"Ecumene has always pursued a ‘quiet’ aesthetic and we wanted these homes to exude an earthy character in a contemporary manner and we achieved this through using a wide variety of materials juxtaposed in new and interesting ways," concludes Habib.
Name: Manjodaya House
Architecture Studio: Ecumene Architects
Design Team: Vasudevan R Kadalayil (Lead Architect), Shrividya Shettigar (Lead Architect), Ezhilarasi P (Lead Architect), Venkatesh Habib (Lead Architect), Prasanna Purohit (Initial Concept Plans), Alwin Varughese (Design Development), Savanraj Dani(Design Development), Seethal S.R (Project Description), Anakha Mohanlal (Project Graphics), Studio Confluence (Landscape Architect)
Consultants: Greensoul Lifespaces Pvt. Ltd. (QS)
Cinematographer Credits: Akhil TDY
Materials/ Brands: Kohler, Bangalore Tile Company, Basant Betons, Decorlite, Jotun Jotashield Tex Ultra, Saint Gobain, Viega, Siemens, Sirca