Architectural Group: Kamat & Rozario Architecture, Bangalore
Architects/Designers Name: Smruti Kamat, Lester Rozario, Sowmya A.S
Consultants: Xntrik Structural Consultants
Contractors: Suresh MC Engineers & Contractors; Pratibha Interiors
Project Location: Bangalore, India
Project Year (Completion): 2013
Project Area: 1200 Sq.ft.
Project Type: Residential
Image Courtesy: Smruti Kamat, Lester Rozario
This presents the typical Indian urban scenario of our densely massed cities. Our main focus was to address this increasingly common issue. The idea was to encourage each owner to give up a small portion of his property in the form of a green pocket. These green areas together would then hopefully collaborate with the overall negative space in the urban fabric to make it breathe as a whole.
The challenge was to find a way to ‘seize our slice of sky ‘and yet make full use of available build-able plot area. Translating this idea, almost half the site is left empty. The most climatically pleasant north-east corner forms a small urban garden. Everything is oriented around it. The house itself is stacked on the remaining site in the form of a tall block overlooking this other open half.
The house is designed for a family of 5 -a young couple, elderly parents and a toddler. The ground floor has a living room which opens out into the garden. This provides for the couple to entertain their friends without disturbing the more private family unit upstairs.
Sitting above the ground floor, is a single volume spanning two floors that ties together all the remaining spaces -and more importantly becomes the heart of the house. The family room, kitchen, dining, and parent’s bedroom are all compactly accommodated on lower level of this volume. The upper level contains a small library space and two more bedrooms. The slim stair, stealthily carved along its length ties together all the levels of this compact unit of urban Indian living.
Efficient zoning of activities responding to the climatic conditions and views, ensured natural light, cross ventilation & passive cooling throughout the house. The south-west corner accommodates the main staircase block; thereby acting as a heat buffer for the living spaces. Bathrooms are stacked against the front exposed southern wall to shield the bedrooms. The built mass of the bedroom block in the first & second floors provide shade in the courtyard.
RCC construction has been limited to the ground floor alone. This acts as a pedestal over which a block of two floors of wall-over-wall construction rests.
The house is constructed using compressed mud blocks. These, as against regular bricks, are an alternative eco-friendly construction material made by compressing and curing, the earth excavated on site itself along with a small quantity of cement and sand.
External surfaces and all internal wall surfaces that contained essential structural elements such as lintels, beams, etc. are mud plastered. This not only reduced the time taken to painstakingly define the concrete members but also created an interesting composition of stark white plastered walls against a deep red mud block wall.
The boundary wall defining the green pocket had to be higher than usual for privacy -leading to a shortage of mud blocks. This called for a fun exercise of creatively stitching together burnt bricks with the remaining mud blocks to craft a sculptural surface that encircled the urban garden.