The Brick Abode

Project: The Brick Abode, Pune

Architects: Alok Kothari Architects, Pune

Nestled in a quaint residential neighborhood of the hip city of Pune, this 3,600 sq ft site once hosted a 25-year-old, single-storey house. Unfortunately, the structure had to be brought down as it was in a dilapidated state, its interiors gloomy. There was also the fact that the building wasn’t compliant with Vaastu Shastra (traditional Hindu science of architecture)—which was in fact, the prime requirement of the client. Study of the site surroundings and the existing structure revealed that the main reasons for the existing house being dull and dark was a three storey bungalow on the east side of the site, which was cutting off the morning sun. Besides, the small opening sizes didn’t allow enough light to penetrate into the house. In order to cater to this issue, we decided to anchor all the spaces in the new design to a central skylight, which would not only draw in light during the entire day, but also act as a brahmasthan (an important aspect related to Vaastu Shastra) of the house.

Furthermore, having large windows to all the rooms was the logical way forward. Along with the norms of Vaastu Shastra, the larger planning principle behind this project was to divide the house into two functional zones along the north-south axis—one for the private spaces and the other for the public spaces. The client’s demand of having all the daily necessity spaces—living, dining, kitchen, pooja room, two bedrooms and toilets—on the ground floor was also catered to. The living room and the kitchen were placed on either side of the central skylight, below which the magnet of the entire house was placed—the dining area. The positioning of an L-type, folded plate, ferrocrete staircase around the dining added an element of play to this central core. The living space extends onto the outdoor seating area, which hosts a traditional Indian swing that the client had sourced from Rajasthan. The kitchen is also connected to the utility space at the rear end (south side) of the house. Continuing the same grid, the first floor is composed of two bedrooms, toilets and a multi-purpose room. By carving out a block from the ground floor grid, the provision was made for two car parks next to the entry porch.

The client wanted a house that was simple but still made a statement. We took this up as a challenge and started exploring different ways of architectural expression. Our research took us to the traditional residential typology of Pune—the wada, a simple yet elegant building style, mostly constructed in exposed brick or basalt stone or both. We decided to use brick, as it is a reasonable material from the point of view of the environment and is cost effective, as well. Moreover, the warmth and the aesthetics provided by brick as a material is unmatched.
Massing of the structure has been kept very subtle, and focus has been put on highlighting the materiality of brick. To complement the red colour of the bricks, exposed concrete box windows and weather shades have been introduced. Also, the square grid of rough cement finish plaster on the compound wall accentuates the presence of bricks. In order to break the monotony of the brick façade and also to provide privacy, jaali work (perforated wall in brick) has been used. While the material palette (brick and concrete) for the exteriors of the building is carefully chosen to give it a simple, natural and playful look, the interiors also follow a similar approach. The material palette comprising of teakwood finish and light colours helps in providing a neat, clean and spacious ambience.

The main USP of the interior design is the use of ‘patterns’ in defining different spaces. The seed of this once again lies in our study of traditional Indian architecture, where the use of such patterns is evident in floorings, wall carvings, ceilings, etc. According to Vaastu Shastra, the use of such shapes and patterns boosts the energy flow through the house and generates positive vibrations. These positive vibrations are what transform a house into a ‘home’—an abode.

Fact File

Client: Avinash Kothari
Design team: Alok Kothari (Principal Architect); Devendra Deshpande; Akshay Karanjkar
Built-up area: 2600 sq.ft
Cost of the project: Rs 5000-6000 per sq.ft

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