Sanjay Puri Architects recreate the traditional Indian courtyard in a modern context with the Courtyard House project in Rajasthan.
The team at Sanjay Puri Architects set about to conceptualise a house that would be a cool haven, protecting the visitor from the intense desert sun. It would draw out the visitor’s fatigue and infuse him with peace and calm. Their creation was inspired by the traditional Indian courtyard house which creates a cooler environment within battling the extreme heat outside.
The design philosophy at Sanjay Puri Architects is to create perceptions of spaces in ways that have not been perceived earlier, while adhering to the context of the site and its location. The concept of the Courtyard House is rooted in tradition but its execution is modern. Two inner courtyards occupy the core of the house. Most of the extensive requirements of the client are arranged around the larger courtyard and additional guest rooms are located along a smaller courtyard.
An open and sunlit corridor links the two. Asymmetrical quadrangles of shapes and sizes radiate outwards from these courtyards and this is where the rooms and amenities are housed.
Chief architect Sanjay Puri says, “The layout of the Courtyard House is similar to the traditional “bhungi” houses of the Rajasthan villages where each room is an entity by itself.”
Deeply recessed openings serve as sheltered spaces transitioning between the inside and the outside. Each room is oriented towards capturing the outside landscape through large windows and balconies. Most rooms also open onto sheltered gardens; grassy mounds both outside and inside ensure privacy and shade. Thus, the internal courtyard becomes an external courtyard of sorts from the viewpoint of the rooms.
The inside outside ambience has been extended to the bathrooms and dressing areas too, with each one opening onto small landscaped external courtyards.
Almost the entire house has been built from exposed concrete, that gives it a sculpted look. It stands out amidst the Rajasthan skyline, iconic in stature, guaranteed to earn a second glance.
“The sculptural quality of the house as perceived internally as well as externally is the most satisfying aspect of the design of this house,” says Sanjay. Its location at the edge of a cement plant made cement a logistically smart choice of material. Also, cement’s thermal properties help retain the cool temperature within the space. This plus the layout which ensures cross ventilation, minimal heat gain and abundant natural light makes the Courtyard House extremely energy efficient.
The house has been winning accolades ever since its completion. It was also nominated for the LEAF (Leading European Architects Forum) Awards 2012 and was short listed in the World Architecture Festival 2012. “All this recognition is very gratifying,” says Sanjay. “Our most rewarding moment, however was when our clients told us that when any of their guests stay in the house, they cannot stop talking about the house for 2 weeks.”
Text By Himali Kothari
Photographs Vinesh Gandhi