Big on simple and sustainable home building concepts? Short on designs for fresh and cool habitats that don’t cost the earth? Meet the Bakshis’ go-to guys for bringing their dream home to life – Indigo Architects.
If you love creative, contextually relevant architectural solutions – just like the husband-wife duo heading Indigo Architects, Uday & Mausami Andhare, do – you wouldn’t pass up a chance to rediscover ‘lime’ as a material for constructing a personal space that grants compositional direction and ornamental value while connecting you with your roots.
Keen on delineating an insightful architectural solution for their client, they achieved this by following a process of holistic design derived from a discerning perception of the local environment, the social milieu and the physical context of the location of the house.
Lime House, reverberating with the essence of a rich ethos and ‘respect for water,’ was thus, conceptualised and constructed for Dr. Pradeep and Aarti Bakshi for Rs. 30 lakh (including interiors) in April 2010 and spans a total area of 250 sq. yards, boasting lime as its central motif, while other design materials vie for credits on the sustainability meter.
Boundaries between the inside and outside get blurred in the architects’ quest for turning out buildings that are pure compositions of spatial elements helping external elements and internal beautifiers speak a common language. Here the idea behind their exploration for an attractive, modest and earth-friendly home gains clarity.
Indigo Architects understood all too well the need for manipulating the experiential qualities of materials, light, air and nature. So, while these were inherently addressed by the lead designers, the potential for using ‘lime’ in contemporary construction, zestfully coupled with a genuine desire to be sustainable at all levels, compelled the designers to keep it simple.
Though the design brief was standard, even mundane: “A modest home for a middle-aged couple on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, with three bedrooms, indoor and outdoor living spaces” the interpretation and re-evaluation of ‘the idea of dwelling’ and subsequent execution of the same based on convincing sustainable strategies made both the process and the end product uber-cool, even in an Indian summer context!
The design principals explored the ideas of ‘Livability’ and ‘Domesticity’ and emphasized these in the context of their work. From this exercise emerged reassuring beliefs, like ‘Simple people live simply’ and the truism that elegant homes needn’t be extravagant or expensive.
Additionally, the design process helped them realize and underline efficiency as being essential for multi-level sustainability, which they achieved by harnessing the immense benefits of alternative materials (like Lime as opposed to cement) to ensure longevity, thermal comfort and contemporary, yet timeless, aesthetics.
Since Ahmedabad’s local climate (hot, arid and mildly humid, barring winters), architectural traditions (lime plaster used in Mughal architecture and local construction to reduce temperature for walls and roof) and the site demanded a design structured to create buffers from the heat for inhabitants, the thermal comfort strategy followed by Indigo Architects was pretty straightforward.
So, bedrooms and living spaces were located towards the core of the house, wrapped by services or shaded elements incorporated for the purpose, such as tree covers, hyacinths and verdant garden spaces that focus on the design, communicating in a dialect of domesticity, enhancing the balance with nature.
The open to nature external spaces composed of kota stone, lime mortar, lime and fly-ash bricks and basic RCC components were unified with the interiors done up in lime plaster and dolomite besides marble dust.
Interestingly, the external lime plaster finish comprised barium sulphate for increasing the efficacy of thermal qualities.
The central volume of the courtyard is a story told in a bold, free and strong tone – the turbo vent placed in the middle allows warm air to escape and enables fresh, stable temperatures to remain constant. Rainwater harvested from rooftops is stored for drinking and cooking while water collected from the garden is directed to a percolation well.
The in-house furniture purchased from Fab-India, Ahmedabad and otherwise built by partnering consultant keeps sync with the audio-visual context of surrounding shadows of creepers and trees, whispering bird – songs and picturesque landscaping of verandahs, courtyards and habitable terrace areas. Entwined together in a broader context, these present a comforting world for a family dwelling space that is welcoming, eco-friendly and infused with fresh, summer scents – just like the Bakshis like it!
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs courtesy Indigo Architects