The Serendeep Clubhouse at the outskirts of Ahmedabad is a homage to its green surroundings – it was carefully given a stone grey and wooden brown tone, and linear structuring, to offset, compliment and direct the spotlight on the vistas around.
At Modo Designs, founded in Ahmedabad in 2002, being close to nature is the aesthetic Holy Grail that must be constantly aspired to. Understandably, their latest clubhouse project has sent ripples of excitement across the drawing board. The project located at the periphery of the city is a part of the Bakeri Group’s Serendeep Mansions, offering the architects a chance to build a design temple amid lush greenery.
The building was completed this year, and is spread over 5,800 sq feet of decidedly grey flooring juxtaposed against a jade landscape. The firm has made it a habit to align its designs to complement its natural surroundings as much as possible. At the Serendeep Clubhouse too, the designers tread this path by imagining the main walls and divisions as conservative horizontals and verticals. The place’s most fervent nod towards modernist sensibility is in its minimalism, as opposed to unconventional shapes and bends of concrete, and in its mix of building materials.
The clubhouse has a wholesome, homely look to it that sets it apart from any other of its ilk, usually populated by buildings that gladly embrace overly commercial fundamentals. Here, the lawn is well-pruned and even at the seating area there is no clutter. The grey of cement, natural slate, rough cuddapah stone and roughened granite offers a friendly handshake to the intermittent wooden accents. The general air of the place is of mature calmness, a space that is waiting for it occupants to supply the colour and cheer.
The Modo team that worked on this project had an obvious affinity to patterned shadow play – mesh designs are scattered across the clubhouse to create haunting weaves of sunlight against the colour scorched floor. A supine stairwell dominates the lower floor’s look, in no small measure because of the columned wooden frame that offers peekaboo views of the pool.
A sitting lounge, a café, a conference area and an expansive gymnasium occupy the main floor of this three-level clubhouse. The most remarkable feature of this project is its linear imagination. The several levels of table-top pieces fit together effortlessly to form a space that manages to look up to the brilliant sunshine above. This semi-open, semi-closed concurrence of forms makes the building a living, breathing neighbour to the green vistas around.
The main seating area espouses the same lack of blinding texturing as the rest of the spaces. Unassuming sofas with black upholstery are the benign entry points here. From this point, one has good views of both the gym and the pool, and ample flow of natural light and ventilation to aid the decision-making on which direction to head in.
The clubhouse never seems to forget that most members usually flit in and out, using them as well-equipped calisthenics escapes, substituting them for lounges. So, this building has quietly conspired to keep them sitting longer, and making them come back more often. The trees and shrubbery around have been left to grow undisturbed, giving the clubhouse a feeling of a cocoon in the midst of an almost wild setting.
The lighting on the walls has no interest in smug display either – it is just as invasive as is required, again helping throw lilting shadows of the surrounding plants onto its bare walls. This is the natural tapestry that must have assured the designers against getting any form of artificial wall art.
The upper floor of the clubhouse features private rooms with terraces. The rooms too have been built on a premise of quiet elegance. In spite of the stone flooring and squeaky clean whiteness of their walls, the rooms’ tenor is strangely wooden. The bed dominates the room, and is blinkered by two large window spaces with mesh blinds to cover them.
With the Serendeep Clubhouse, Modo has succeeded in building a space that is sensitive to its natural surroundings, conscious of the needs of its clientele, and still manages to be accessible and friendly. It is apparent that the designer-architect team had a rustic set-up in mind from the start. Arpan Shah of Modo Designs says that an important consideration in their projects is to “include the elements of nature into the architecture and allow the user to commune with nature.” This drives all their design efforts to focus on drawing maximum mileage out of natural elements, and the Serendeep Clubhouse is no exception.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Architect