by Jerry ElengicalOct 05, 2022
The interstice is a state that eludes categorisation, eschewing the absolute in favour of pushing boundaries. From an architectural standpoint, the concept of interstitial space is often explored through juxtapositions of interior and exterior, private and public, or solid and void. In the village of Chekhla, in Gujarat, India, Two Bay House - a home built by Ahmedabad-based firm MISA Architects for a couple working in the construction industry - offers explorations of such spaces in various permutations, forgoing clear-cut delineations of spatial categorisation in favour of a scheme that places this intermediary state at its very core.
With regards to the parameters that drove their unique design, MISA Architects relays, “The challenge was to make minimal to zero interference with the surrounding natural habitat. By design, the built footprint is only about five per cent of the entire land parcel.” In spite of this, while rising above vast expanses of open fields, the front façade of Two Bay House cuts a striking and imposing figure, with a sense of symmetry enhanced by the monumental sight of its central double-height corridor. Finished in exposed concrete, this structure serves as both the metaphorical and literal heart of the home, carving a linear route through the residence that links all program areas along a single stretch. A simple and elegant solution to internal circulation, this spine transforms Two Bay House into an experiential journey through the site, with various points of interest peppered along its path.
“The idea was to explore in-betweenness, something that is not absolute and yet imbibes a bit of both the extremes – something that can be considered a form in itself,” mention the architects. To this end, the béton brut-finished enclosure of the corridor is neither truly open nor closed, neither private nor public, indoor or outdoor. It flirts with all these qualities at different points throughout its length - framed by pairs of concrete columns. While the initial section of the entry porch is left relatively open, the sense of enclosure within the passage gradually intensifies towards its centre and then subsequently decreases once again on approaching the corridor’s opposing end. To complement this progression, a natural palette of exposed brick and concrete is followed throughout the structure, with polished Kota stone dressing the floors.
As part of its layout, the corridor has been designed such that a set of two ‘bays’ are perpetually accessible throughout its length - the source of the home’s moniker. Courtyards and landscaped pockets beneath skylights are the first such bays encountered, swiftly followed by the main living and dining area to one side and a bedroom to the other. A trio of punctured openings in the roof generates a play of light and shadow, with the first such void carefully positioned to create a spotlight at the house’s threshold. Shallow channels of water on either side of the main walkway are replenished by periodic rains - which also aid in hydrating the planters they accommodate. In an official release, the architects note that “points of access to the bays are like bridges over water channels. During festivities, the user personalises this space by placing oil lamps and flowers on the water’s surface.”
Inside the expansive living bay, the living room, dining, and kitchen, combine to form a single continuous space. Exposed ceiling fixtures adorning the raw concrete lend an informal vibe to the space, enclosed by floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, which visually link the space to the corridor and nearby fields. “The intention was to keep furniture minimal and functional, such that visitors can experience the space as a single, coherent unit – without being distracted by additional elements that may only be placed for aesthetics,” notes MISA Architects about the interior design. They continue, “The home is designed to give the same feel or stimulus even in absence of the detachable functional elements or furnishing.” The restrained and earthy material selection is complemented by functional wood furnishing that lends a rustic touch to the residential design. Angled clerestory windows line the inward-facing edge of the ceiling, permitting diffused light to flood into the area, which flows into a plinth-level terrace, shaded by a sloped concrete roof canopy.
In the home’s eastern wing, a swimming pool with an expansive concrete deck is blessed with tranquil views of the surrounding countryside. Enclosed by a set of bedrooms that look into the zone, the pool area blurs the line between private and public space. With regards to the climatic design features incorporated into the home, the team at MISA Architects explains, “Ahmedabad is essentially hot and dry for most time of the year, and so we decided to introduce roof cut-outs, an extended plinth-level terrace, and the central double-height circulation core - as essential interventions to avoid artificial climate-control measures. These features allow the home to forgo the use of artificial light through a large part of the day while purifying the airing and cooling down ambient temperatures.”
Traversing the realm of the intermedial while responding to its context in a manner that harnesses the best facets of contemporary Indian architecture, Two Bay House discards the restrictive categorisation of spatial programming to craft a humble abode featuring spaces that are woven into the fabric of their sprawling rural surroundings.
Name: Two Bay House – In-Betweenness of the Built and the Unbuilt
Location: Chekhla, Gujarat, India
Gross Built Area: 180,000 sq.ft.
Client: Khyati Patel and Priyank Patel
Architect: MISA Architects
Lead Architects: Kranti Desai, Anand Jasani, Vipul Jiyani, Tarun Patel
Completed: February 2020