A suburban retreat set in 2.5 acres of land in the outskirts of New Delhi, this home combines nostalgia for fast disappearing sprawling traditional family homes with a modern ecological sensibility. It provides the residents a spatially rich & visually arresting setting for their relatively secluded & book oriented lifestyle and a home for their possessions collected over a lifetime during working sojourns in varied countries across the globe.
The owners are a couple engaged in literary & non profit activities. Having lived in and worked with NGOs in various countries for many years during which they hankered to return to familiar surroundings in as well as to bring their skills back to development issues of India, they were lucky enough to be able to purchase this rather low lying piece of agricultural land just South of Delhi at a low ebb in Delhi’s price cycles. With tastes quite far removed from the flashy farm houses cropping up in Delhi’s hinterlands they envisaged in their mind’s eye a quiet unassuming refuge in the midst of greenery and a place to try out initiatives in organic farming and sustainable living.
Designed in an idiom evoking rural homes from the culturally & architecturally distinct region of South India it reflects the owner couple’s cultural roots. Though translocated from the warm coastal & wet region of Kerala to the hot temperate climate of Delhi -A careful selection of apt components of that idiom in the form of lofty internal volumes under pitched tiled roofs, deep surrounding verandahs as shading devices, courtyard centric planning to reinforce the Stack effect of cooling, the presence of numerous water bodies to cool prevalent breezes and other design interventions like plan orientation towards desirable sun & breeze directions and massing to help mutual shading all help to adapt the idiom to another climatic zone.
Energy saving in the form of the above passive cooling devices & design form is furthered by ample yet sun protected openings & cross ventilation to maximize daylight & natural cooling to reduce the need for electricity.
Ecological interventions include water recycling, rain water harvesting, use of solar energy for water heating & the use of local as well as recycled materials in the house over & above the organic farm that occupies the rest of the property.
The house is designed around a multiplicity of lushly planted courtyards, the differing treatment of each courtyard helping to imbue the progression through the house with different experiences at each pause while planning on an emphatic axial corridor / verandah helps pull the focus back from time to time to the main gardens which have been kept behind the house for the sake of privacy as well as to face morning & winter sun. Occasional interventions like antique doors, stone sculpture and other artefacts further energize the progression