Known to the designers as the ‘Butterfly House’ and to its residents as ‘Khwaish,’ this home to a doctor couple features a garden on each floor visited by beautiful dreams and beliefs that synergise each other.
The EssTeam, based in Surat, spearheaded by architect Snehal Shah is obsessed with the word honesty, and confesses how natural it is for this characteristic to brush with their design philosophy. This honest expression of materials combined with an emphasis on functionality is evident across a multiplicity of their works, particularly our featured project: ‘Khwaish.’
Being able to relate intrinsically to late design Guru, Steve Jobs, Mr. Shah defines his work approach in the words of the great man he admired so much, revealing his professional affinity: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, Design is how it works.”
And boy, did this project require them to work their socks off – especially on the design concept! The challenges of meeting client demands pushed the team into overdrive and they came up with the novel idea of incorporating gardens on every level of the house. The gardens were to be invoked as virtual elements, via large fenestrations, in addition allowance for ample daylight and lawn elements facing each other were also made.
The doctor couple in their early 40s with a thriving private practice and a national Taekwondo champion for a daughter had long nursed a ‘Khwaish’(wish) for a home in harmony with nature. The doctors are marathon runners, thus completely in sync with the fact that keeping pace with the natural order of things builds strength, refreshes and renews even while allowing for a fascination for speed every once in a while.
A garden on every floor, limited pocket of space (230 sq yds) and the plot being situated in a congested, urban part of the city determined the designer’s consideration of a ground plus upper storeys scheme of things.
The client’s requirements for 3-car parks, a home theatre, living and dining space, kitchen, family room, a library, and three bedrooms would all have to be accommodated within the periphery of this broad conceptualisation, which compelled the team to scale it down to a visually small building in order to present the clients their hearts’ desire.
So, the design starting point was a home in sync with nature and a gradually flowering floor space spanning 4,500 sq feet that literally got upgraded with every level one walked upwards. Thus, the ground floor houses the parking, servant quarters and home theatre space, the first floor accommodates the living, dining, kitchen and family rooms, the second floor contains the library and parents’ bedroom while the top most floor comprises a master bedroom and daughter’s bedroom.
The promised gardens for each floor were duly delivered with each having a distinct feel to it. For instance the first floor garden lies north along the double-heighted living and dining area while the second floor boasts a squareish garden with a Champa tree that draws the vision from the library and the parents’ bedroom to the garden front. Similarly, the third floor garden comprises a wooden deck interspersed with interesting potted plants.
The material palette of the house rejects artificial elements, preferring the rustic way instead. Therefore, the entire house is floored with polished Kotah stone (1m x 1m) and makes use of form-finished concrete. Imprints of textured e-board sheets have been captured artistically on the form finished concrete walls and the texture catches the light beautifully, as accompanying visuals reveal.
Soft furnishings – tapestries, window coverings and carpets – in vibrant colours brighten up the elegant though somewhat subdued tones of the entire house.
As the principal architect reveals: “art integration has become a very important habit for us and this house exemplifies it to our satisfaction.”
An interesting screen constructed for security and privacy from the adjoining property complements the gardens on each floor. Large 2 metre wide butterflies hanging over sharp grass spikes, link its tangible essence to the nameplate of this house ‘Khwaish’.
The principal architect’s love for sports is no less worthy of credit for the connect he made with his clients. A regular at the tennis court for last 20 years, a cricket, Formula 1 and Tennis buff, Snehal is also inclined towards teaching (visiting faculty at SCET, Dept. of Architecture for last 10 years) when not adding accolades to his 10 year old EssTeam or establishing himself as an author (his first book ‘Bedankt’ is out in the markets).
Snehal’s 10 national awards only spur him to visualise more such functional innovations of architectural dialogues in terms of residential spaces that transcend everyday ministrations. His efforts are focussed on “totally democratising the firm so as to produce wonderful human beings and high quality works…”
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs Courtesy The Architect