The Kukreja House by Lotus, is an apt example of a modern day residence that synergises the comforts and luxuries of contemporary times with the warmth of a traditional home in a sustainable way.
“Our signature style is that we have no signature style,” are the words of Ambrish Arora, Founding Principal, Lotus, New Delhi. “Instead we try to maintain a philosophy. We deal with every design problem at a fundamental level. For us it is never about what we would like to do in a particular project. Rather the project gets shaped by various forces like context and parameters understood by deep research. We begin with an effort to define the forces at play and we then go on to create the geometry that resolves it. We find inspiration in ordinary things, everyday events and encounters,” elaborates Ambrish.
Lotus is a multidisciplinary design practice whose work seamlessly weaves interior and exterior spaces with large architectural ideas and the smallest of furniture details. This firm comes up with an alluring bungalow in the capital city of country for a well travelled couple in their 50’s, Madan and Babli Kukreja.
Ambrish Arora with Sidhartha Talwar, Kullu Arun, Smriti Sachdev and Sourabh Gaur came up with a design that breaks away from the norms of a contemporary house and determines its own unique ideology.
The plan reveals an unusual approach for the layout of the spaces. While the house rectilinearly sits on a 10,000 sq. ft. site externally, internally there are hardly any parallel walls. “A home is the most private space for a person. Nooks and corners are opportunities for personalised spaces. These allow intimate sitting arrangements. With the trapezoidal plan, the layout generated loosely defined spaces with interesting juxtapositions,” explains Ambrish.
The organisation of the spaces allows the winter sun inside while effectively cutting off the glare in summers. Moreover it allows privacy from neighbours in the West and North directions and transparency towards the gardens in the South and East directions.
The house seems to have achieved the essence of timeless architecture. It is neither too contemporary nor too classical. It belongs to today and yet radiates the innocence and humility of traditional homes. The random rubble stone masonry and exposed concrete roof add a rustic feel making the spaces appear warm and cosy. The motley assortment of warm colours from timber furniture, fenestrations, tapestry and upholstery is flushed with light from the strategically placed lamps that add the perfect tint of elegance and sophistication to the ambience.
The selective display of art, whether it is through a Buddha statue in the living room or the intricate mural painting in the courtyard, generates varied points of interests.
“Sustainability can be looked at with multiple lenses to understand the varied aspects of the environment. There are two precise variants, embodied energy and operational energy. Usually the embodied energy is very high in degree. With the use of local materials and skill this is tackled primarily. We also strive to minimise the use of imported materials and the unnecessary use of sophisticated technology.
This is the first aspect; the second important factor is the climatic response that makes the spaces congenial for human living. For this project, we have avoided centralised air-conditioning and have allowed cross ventilation for most of the spaces by providing a central courtyard. All the movement spaces have natural passive cooling. Rain water harvesting and solar water heaters add up to save on the use of non-renewable sources of energy,” elucidates Ambrish.
“It was in fact a challenge to convince the high-end clients to allow the use of locally available stone for achieving the luxurious look. On the other hand it is sometimes difficult to maintain a high degree of finish with local craftsmen,” states Ambrish. But as an efficient architect and as one alert towards the environment, Ambrish seems to have successfully overcome both these challenges in all his projects so far.
Ambrish signs off by higlighting the firm’s penchant for designing a space that offers an opportunity to build in layers, which unfold differently for different people.
Text By Kruti Choksi
Photographs Courtesy Eye Piece