Beauty becomes an eventual byproduct when the idea that it is preceded by is rooted so well that it looks as if it grows out of earth itself rather than being built over it. Can we in that case rise above the eternal, and sometimes irrelevant, debate of form versus function and look at them as one and the same?
A spot of bother for those who like the shell of familiarity, a celebration of assurance for those who choose to break away, Moonlight stands right there asserting itself and the wildness of untamed earth. It’s almost as if it is oblivious to the impact it has on those who see it.
The joyful chill that ran through the architect’s spirit when he saw the site was inexplicable, as he says. And that was just the beginning of the wonderful journey that Moonlight now stands as a testimony to.
Is it the openness that was successfully enclosed in these spaces or have the enclosures of the so called rooms opened out to un-define themselves; it is hard to say.
The planning has been carefully done keeping in mind that the spaces don’t limit their own function and at the same time have one of their sides open to the magnificent view overlooking the valley. The plan is based on a grid that’s not so rigid. As a result you can see a set of rooms weaving in and out of each other fluidly, canceling out any form of apparent boundaries.
Architecture as a craft grows when you unleash your ideas that take shape on-site. Mahesh, who shares this thought, also started off with minimum drawings. This lends more reality to the term organic architecture. He carefully went about making choices of materials based on accessibility, using local labour and training them – starting from the minutest detail to the arches and vaults, learning about the site from the site itself and the experiences it leaves you with.
All this and much more is what this structure as intricate as stone carving brought. The scale of the rooms becomes a pavilion for the breeze to pass through. For the air inside to remain cool the roof overhead ensures enough shade that’s needed to counter the heat and the glare.
The materials and techniques employed are not just time tested and reliable but clearly reflect a cultural sensitivity towards the area.
Moonlight is an honest interpretation of the one who lives in it. What is dwelling if not but leaving a trace? The simple act of living should be just that; simple and well grounded.
Dwelling in skyscrapers and sleeping on a bed instead of the floor aren’t things that come to us in a moment of spontaneity. To live and witness the dramatic sunrise and sunset, and to make a home that invites the day and night is as exhilarating as it is challenging.
Lighting changes the mood from fresh to bright, to playful, to somber and then to serene as the day progresses. The dome shaped skylight on top of the meditation space cum library represents the nava-graha of the solar system.
The idea of ‘you-get-what-you-see’ has never been so strong in a building such as this. You would not find plastered walls, external finishes or coatings anywhere that hide the real nature, finish and texture of the material. There is a never ending debate that goes on about body versus mind. But what is body without the mind and where do you keep the mind if not in your body. Body and mind are, in fact, one and the same. This very principle, we might dare, apply to materials too.
Moonlight is an ode to this. This house bares its soul, its idea through the bare minimum treatment of the walls, to the roof and the floor. We come from a culture that speaks highly of being rooted and it wouldn’t be wrong to say we’re going back to one. We return to the earth what we take from it; a ‘kulhad’ of chai, a brick or even a human body. Organic, to the T.
Text By Nimmy Joshi
Photographs Asim S. Wadkar