Private Quarters | December 2011
The High Life
KNS Architects has literally raised the standard of living in this free flowing bungalow in Surat, which has been raised well above the ground to protect the house from floods.
The prime ingredients of practical living spaces are vision, a well-thought out plan and most essentially, a designer who goes beyond the clients' brief to create a unique identity for the home. One such project is this bungalow in Surat designed by Mumbai-based KNS Architects. Standing like a lone breath of fresh air, this house has many levels to it: literally!
This unique residence is sprawled across a plot measuring almost 10,000 sq ft, with the house and lawn covering 7,500 sq ft and a driveway filling the rest of the space. On entering the gate, one enters what the designer, Neemesh Shah, Principal Architect, KNS Architects refers to as the 'basement', which also serves as a garage. From here, steps lead up to the main house. The piquant element in the entire concept is that the house, along with the lawn, has been raised well above the ground level.
"Surat is known to experience floods, so the first level of the house is actually the ground level. The structure is now a ground plus one building with a basement," informs Shah. In the case of floods, the basement will face the brunt of the water - while the floor here is covered in tiles, most of the fixed furniture is in marble.
Moving up from the basement, one enters the living space - a glass house opening out to a garden. Minimalism rules, with large open areas and few boundaries. With a modern, straight-lined look, Shah creates a large volume with almost overwhelming tones of white that are set off with warm colours. This design approach flows from the exterior, which is alternatively clad in brown stone and white paint, into the interiors where the walls are predominantly white with beige or brown toned furniture.
Generous carpet area and the double height ceiling make the living space the epitome of vastness. "Taking advantage of the double volume, we focussed on the wall behind the television by installing an onyx stone slab that climbs up all the way to the ceiling, making it a focal element. The space also gave us the freedom to install ceiling-to-floor windows that give the home owner a spectacular view of the outside," says Shah.
The onyx slab is a curious piece of art that has been created by laying out different pieces of the stone on glass, which was then framed and backlit. The windows have been simply dressed in white, their automated roller blinds adding to the minimalism.
Light and warm
The interiors enjoy fresh air and light all day long. The living room has the large windows as a constant source of daylight. The lighting design for the evenings has been kept as indirect as possible, to avoid the glare that direct light produces.
Again, automation has been introduced here to create the mood. In the living room, spot lights speckle the ceiling, while the remaining light is sourced from stand alone table and floor lamps, LED lights in the wall and even the backlit onyx frame. All the lights have been imported from China. Although For an international look, the designers stuck to importing the furniture and materials from China, instead of using local sources. "High end stone in different shades, the glass railing in the balcony, soft composite white marble in the interiors, artefacts and even the bathroom fittings, etc have been procured from China. Contrary to the notion that products from China are of bad quality, we have got excellent, high end materials that are robust and of high quality," says Shah.
While the highlight of this home is the clever, yet subtle method of merging the interiors and exteriors into one single element, it was certainly a challenge for the designers to maintain the minimalism. "With so much space in hand, most designers tend to keep adding elements through various materials till the space looks overdone. To leave most of the walls plain and still give the space uniqueness is difficult," avers Shah.
That the architects have managed to maintain simplicity and yet create a structure with unique good looks and functionality is testimony to the designer's skill and vision.
Total Cost: Approx Rs 4,000 per sq ft
Total Area: Approx 10,000 sq ft
Design Team: Principal Architects: Kanhai Gandhi, Neemesh Shah, Shresht Kashyap. Associates: Bhavesh Mewada & Gopal Zaveri.
Text: Shanti Padukone
Photos: Rahul Pawar
Meet the architects: Neemesh Shah, Shresht Kashyap & Kanhai Gandhi
Firm: KNS Architects, founded in 1997
Firm specialisation: Architecture, interior and retail.
Design philosophy: To follow and create a different identity for every space that we design.
Philosophy towards life: To maintain a balance between work and play.
Favourite architect/Designer: Zaha Hadid, Antonio Gaudi and Nari Gandhi.
KNS Architects, 305, Dev Plaza, 3rd Floor, SV Road, Andheri (West), Mumbai-400 058. Tel: 022-6776 5000. E-mail: email@example.com
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