Simplicity when translated into reality is real beauty; a shining example is the beach house designed by Mancini Enterprises, where white surfaces are in conversation with their green surroundings.
Pure architecture beholds you when your eyes happen upon the beach house – straight lines, play of spaces, geometric massing and the use of natural elements; even the frondescence becomes a translational tool in this example of minimalist architecture. Designed by Mancini Enterprises, this elegant beach house sits unassumingly in the fast developing real estate alongside East Coast Road (ECR) on the Bay of Bengal coast from Chennai to Puducherry.
Amidst the numerous beach houses that follow the standard architecture of sloping roofs and red tiles, this beach home subtly makes a different statement; it sits back as a white pearl and settles into its surroundings. Green paddy fields, coconut trees and a natural sea front element suggested a design that would integrate the beauty of the site into the architecture in a simple language that renders itself as a building which seems effortless, yet makes its presence known. As the chief architect, Niels Schoenfelder puts it, “the basic concept was to design a long building that would provide a generous but simple space configuration in order to allow for landscape and views to be the priority.”
The clients had clear requirements of the beach house; a space that would accommodate their art collection and also provide an informal setting where guests and hosts could interact in tranquility. As a response, the design team designed a linear house with massing that produced interesting spaces and also gave maximum view of the sea and surroundings.
The linear components of the house is made of strip shaped components, each strip characterising a particular aspect of the structure.The topmost plane, the roof plate with its large overhanging eaves serve the dual purpose of providing protection from nature’s elements and affording privacy. The dark underside of the roof contrasts with the stark white surfaces and becomes the final focal point in view. When the roof ends, your eyes are abruptly brought down to the lower level; where the verandahs, dense foliage and clear balconies make an engaging conversation. From there, your eyes move further downwards to the ground floor, where the actual contrasts strike hard; white surfaces and green carpets, horizontal water planes and rising white walls, and of course the play of negative and positive spaces.
The glazed transparent fenestration contrasting with opaque vertical surfaces accentuate the linearity of the structure. Vertical fenestrations do not break the horizontal linearity; instead, by being boxed within, they emphasise it. On the sea facing east façade, glazed openings provide great views while being shaded by large overhangs of the roof plate. The windows reflect the waters around, and near the pool, a dash of blue helps in the smooth transition from white walls to dark blue waters. On the western façade where a ‘view’ is not as important, fenestrations are linear and boxed from the outside; a contrast in itself, but an extension of the strip architecture.
Negative spaces, formed as a result of massing, work as entrances, porches and balconies, where colour contrasts are offered by the bright furniture juxtaposed with the earthy-toned flooring. The volumes have been defined by water elements – pools outlining the edges and corners of the house at the northern and southern facades. At the northern façade, the water body reflects changing skies and swinging greens beautify the static image of the building while also acting as a barrier to insects.
On the same facade a lush green edge is given to the verandah – a contrast to the pristine white of the structure that makes a link with the green surroundings. According to architect Niels Schoenfelder, “the building is an exercise in restrained geometry contrasting with the lush landscape around and white supports this contrast well.”
While ‘contrasts’ are true measures of a complete experience, this beach home on the Coramandel Coast orients itself to the context and topography of the site. The raw, plain architectural compositions transcend mere site parameters and engage a powerful theme of balanced contrasts with its strips, linearity and stark white surfaces in the broader discourse on architecture.
The beach house designed has all the basic principles of architecture precariously balanced on one platter, yet offering a final result that applauds the simplistic beauty of these principles. The house does not deform the nature encompassing it, but blends into the locale as effortlessly as the myriad elements of the coast.