Located in a small village Munavali, proximal to Alibaug, a favorite getaway, for affluent Bombay citizens as a place to build their dream country home. When driving around the Raigad district , one often chances to see local brick stacks being baked on the green lots that surround them . Long stretches of the two main wings of the house sit at right-angles to each other and about a curious tree which has grown at a leaning angle. Every room is cut on two sides with openings ,supporting easy cross ventilation and ingress of just the right about of light.
SPASM DESIGN ARCHITECTS
Mr. Gireesh Rajadhyaksha
Sanjeev Panjabi and Sangeeta Merchant
Is an architecture studio set up in 1995 , by the two partners, Sangeeta Merchant and Sanjeev Panjabi.
Run as an intimate, research and innovation based studio, the focus is on unique user friendly projects.
Our peculiar conception of projects is rooted is site specificities, relevance to the ask, appropriateness of materials and trades used, the act of construction and putting together the built form, the wear and ageing of materials used, sustainability in a broader sense and above all delivering an endearing piece of architecture which becomes a true extension of the user and the site.
We do not promote a method or solution.
We do not theorize.
We do not think the process is – in any way – similar in every project.
We seek… to capture the fleeting essence.
We seek… a reality-check before we face our clients.
We seek… to uplift the human spirit.
We search… emotion.
We search… apparent ease – effortlessness.
We search… clarity.
The concerns remain the same throughout:
How honest can you be?
How sensible can you be?
How humble can you be?
What is relevant?
How long will it remain so?
Can your project go further than its apparent purpose?
How humane can it be?
Will it be endearing, through how it performs?
Our buildings try to be the best representations of their own reality. An architect channels all the conditions, constraints, functional issues, resources at hand, etc., into a resolute whole. That’s where the special quality comes – in an architect’s sense of light, lightness and weight of materials, workmanship, the act of putting things together….. More than ideas, we feel that it is the inner sensibility that contributes to that special feel or quality.
Process is a constantly changing animal! Sometimes it’s as easy as a stallion to ride on, and sometimes as difficult as a chameleon to nail down – it’s never the same. However, there always comes a, “this feels right” moment.
Geoffrey Bawa once said, “Too much architecture between me and the view!” This, perhaps, has become a sort of ethos of SPASM’s architecture. As we say, ‘The greatest reward is to be untraceable, as architects.
TROPICAL HUMID WITH HEAVY RAINFALL.
Different houses , have different stories.
Located in a small village Munavali, proximal to Alibaug, a favorite getaway, for affluent Bombay citizens as a place to build their dream country home.
The allotment (3 acres) was partly a grove of Tamarind and Mango trees , with the odd , Champa, Vad tree. Part of the plot was four feet lower and was, an unkempt paddy field . The front of the property is a not so busy asphalt road.
When driving around the Raigad district , one often chances to see local brick stacks being baked on the green lots that surround them – some remain and are also abandoned ….
These form a peculiar feature of the landscape in Maharashtra.
We, wondered what it would be like to hollow out and inhabit these almost primitive mastaba like forms.
Our interest lay in using this image as a genesis of the house .
Site integration , was informed by site features like prominent Tamarind trees and orientation, aspect, wind and rain direction …..
Long stretches of the two main wings of the house , sit at right-angles to each other and about a curious tree which has grown at a leaning angle ……
Every room is cut on two sides with openings ,supporting easy cross ventilation and ingress of just the right about of light…..DESI (country) houses have peculiarly dark interiors offering respite from the sun –scorched outdoors…..
Attached facilities, allow for an intimate interface with the outdoors, in marked opposition to urban life, here you wouldn’t need a book when you sit on the pot……
The sequencing of the rooms, is frugal, and in series as a farm building, you must walk outdoors to change rooms…
The living space has a curious shed-like volume, where the materials of the house come together rather loosely ….. Insinuating incompleteness and creating a sense of being immersed in the vegetation around.
The body of the house hides under tree canopies like a gator , at the edge of a river bank….
The choice of BRICK was based on color, strength, finish--- --blemishes of a hand-made unit were key to the overall expression…
The red earth brick does not attempt to be precise, neither does it try to create patterns or jaalis as commonly seen in Indian architecture, the brick is what it is , at rest --- a STACK , its mass concealing and revealing life within it….. The sheer thickness –mass of the brick, keeps the interior spaces comfortably cool.
Experience of occupation takes precedence over formal gestures…. Sun , rain and wind freely enter the house and will mark it over the years …..the stacks will gradually get covered with luminescent moss, nature will fight its way back……. Living in a country home is about witnessing this war…..
The pool, takes form from the shadow of the trees on the earth below, a pattern we noticed on an especially hot afternoon ….. In such regions water automatically becomes a source of life…. Getting engulfed by foliage….
This was a DESIGN-BUILD assignment --- our first as architects…..
We, had one brick mason--- eccentric!, 6 carpenters – with their radios blaring! ,an old stone cutter whose hands as hard as stone gave evidence of his life’s work and our engineer all of 28 yrs- who questioned the necessity, sense and strength of everything from design decisions to construction joints, to frustrating levels!!!
WE ,enjoyed building this house……..
“In the tropics, we have a unique light. One which is the giver of form, texture, feel and atmosphere. One which calibrates the passage of time, one which through depth of shadows and variances along surfaces, imparts a sense of joy. One which is unforgiving at zenith, making flat faces seem like pockmarked skin. And which an hour before sunset, turns everything golden and precious. Understanding this phenomenon is perhaps most, difficult, intuitive, personal and rewarding!
“The phenomenon of light, celebrates architecture as life, as experience, at once as tangible and ephemeral. At the Brick Kiln House, we needed to tame the light, adjust it through pergolas, courts, wall thicknesses, jalis, clerestories, louvres and dark floors. Each device intended to refocus and fine tune its purpose to work in tandem with the larger picture. The reflection of this light off paint, brick, plaster, stone, wood, glass, water and greenery is always special. During the monsoons, the iridescent moss picks up this light on odd afternoons and makes the edges of the kiln body luminescent! We wonder how much of it is our work, and what magic does light perform itself....
“Then bent over the drawings, we begin thinking about the absence of light post sunset. How does one make the hours up to sunrise as enthralling? Kahn, Corbusier, Correa, used sharp shadows, bold forms, and zenithal, light to great effect. Bawa, however harnessed tropical light in more latent fashion, every space being imbued with reflected light from sky courts, thin as slivers, capturing every nuance of tropical light, almost cinematographic in the way each time light is coaxed into the space.”
The existing well on site is used as rain water harvesting tank along with other pits to recharge the water table below the site.
The main passive cooling strategy is the use of terracotta bricks ranging from 2 and half brick thick to 1 brick thick walls.
These brick walls provide the necessary thermal mass to keep the interior spaces cool.
Other strategies include large operable sliders located across each room akin to a farm building.
Meshes, jalis, pergolas and water bodies all worked in unison to provide cooling.
The overall orientation of the building is such that it sits behind the first line of trees which act as a natural defense against the beating monsoon.
Very little use of machinery on site with an impetus on craftsmanship which is completely sourced in and around the region.
The principle material of the project which are brick stone and zinc for the roof are all 100 percent recycled.
Load bearing/ steel frame
Hand dug foundation to preserve roots of the exsiting trees
Salvaged teak throughout including pergolas.
Partly Basalt stone, hand honed on site and Kadappa stone slabs.
Oils on wood and BOC free paints.
0.7 mm thick ZInc standing seam roof.
Predominantly LED Fixtures.
IP rated Fixtures with chip on Board LED Panels.
efficient (150-250m3/hr/W) and quiet
Furred in Air Conditioners for living room and high wall splits for bedrooms.All VRV technology.
Solar exterior lighting in parts.
Sangeeta Merchant, Mangesh Jadhav, Thomas Kariath, Mansoor Kudalkar, Sanjeev Panjabi