On the outskirts of Vadodra nestles a house that reveals itself step by step – ‘surprise’ being its underlying theme. This veiled beauty combines contrasting elements and exudes an equanimity with effortless ease.
Hiding behind a perforated RCC wall, the house designed by Vadodra based architectural firm Dipen Gada and Associates opens itself in layers, akin to a flower that slowly blossoms to its full bloom. Aptly termed ‘Peep House’, the 8700 square feet bungalow sprawled on a large plot is an experimental design where inside outside spaces coexist in perfect harmony.
Designed in three separate parts – the house, the Zen garden and the swimming pool, principal architect Dipen Gada and his team have woven the different built spaces together through manicured gardens and patios.
All volumes follow an open plan, with a gradual transition into the outside spaces through sit-outs, open passages and terraces thereby bringing into the volumes a delightful composition of light patterns and shadows.
As one approaches the house, the first view is that of the ‘veil’ wall and an ashen frontal elevation with a cube jutting out on the first floor – an interesting display of geometric negative and positive spaces which sets the tenor for the expanses that follow.
The very exordium which starts out as a union of natural elements and built spaces, takes us beyond the wall to a fifty feet long passage which guides us to the main entrance, past a swimming pool screened by wooden louvers and a garden. Sauntering in the passage carpeted in river finish Kota stone, we are slowly introduced to the first part of the design – the house.
There is distinctive zoning of spaces in the house – first come the office rooms and then the private spaces, with the swimming pool acting as the demarcating line. The entrance passage forms an ‘L’ shape as it turns to become the sit-out space outlining the gardens for the living room and dining room. The front garden in its simple execution is an enriching experience – a tranquil pool on a green turf which becomes the canvas for light, entering through the perforated RCC wall and its openings, to play shadow games.
Climbing to the first floor, a canary yellow wall arrayed with photographs receive us into a long passage, where large openings with wooden louvers paint the journey in vivid strokes of light and shadow.
At the end of this passage is an open to sky court, with trellis and perforated walls and stone tiles boxing it. Carpeted partly in pebbles and partly in Kota stone, this space has unique artifacts and with natural light fiddling around playfully creating shapes and figures on the walls and floors thanks to the trellis, it has an irresistible Zen appeal. This passage leads us to the bedrooms, yet another statement of minimal design connecting with nature. Rich interiors in elegant expressions within white walls with textural differences create the sublime excitement in these lacunae.
The second part of the design – the swimming pool, has a canopy formed by the first floor rooms which sketch a positive negative massing in the elevation. The passage screened with louvers on the floor above look down into the still waters and the adjacent louvered entrance passage gives a partial view contributing to the ‘peep’ effect.
The swimming pool fitted with thematic mood lighting, is the chatoyant central hub, that flexes its role from a relaxed spot to a chill out arena whenever required.
Natural light is an architectural feature Dipen Gada has used to create a dramatic opus in every possible nook of the house; he uses shaded openings, terraces and patios which allow natural light to permeate the spaces in abundance and minimise the use of artificial energy.
After the sun has set, like the art of fireworks, the Peep house architecture becomes nocturnal art under the dull glow of warm hues that light up the house and gardens and the showstopper being the spiral forty feet long light feature of the entrance passage.
There is an understated beauty in the house, brought in not just through the massing, but also through relation between the inside-outside spaces, the architectural features creating vibrant light-shadow patterns and the connections between various spaces.
‘Peep House’ balances design, architectural details, landscape and their spatial equations in perfect parity, and is a statement for Architect Dipen Gada’s signature style of a simple and minimal approach, where not only the basic architectural layout but also the material palette and landscape augment the style; creating an ethereal confluence of all elements and simplicity reigns as the ultimate sophistication.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Courtesy Tejas Shah