In Lutyens’ Delhi, the owners of a newly-built farmhouse had a conundrum. They wanted an elegant garden, but the site was surrounded on three sides by neighbouring plots with only a narrow space left, which was reserved for the driveway.
Oasis Designs Inc (ODI), a multi-disciplinary architectural and landscape design firm based in New Delhi, were called to the rescue. Their brief was to design all the areas outside the building – the main garden area, the driveway and the sides and the space at the back of the house.
Founded in 2001, ODI has worked on many urban projects like plazas, public spaces, eco-corridors and other urban regeneration projects. The philosophy of the firm is “to transcend the conventional boundaries of design”. Adopting sustainable design practices and working on creating eco-sensitive urban environments ranks high for Oasis.
Through their advocacy programmes, Oasis Design has formed pressure groups to “bring about positive change for cities”, including the implementation of the ambitious Greenway project to improve the ecological status of natural drains.
For this project, Principal Landscape Architect Sujata Hingorani worked closely with the firm S.K. Architects and the interior designers Neterwala and Aibara to create this one-acre quiet and contemporary green haven.
“We had many discussions with the interior designers and the client,” she says. “We were looking for a comprehensive solution, one that would let the outdoors be a cohesive part of the whole design scheme and not just an isolated thing.”
The client had one request: he wanted to hear and see lots of water. Sujata’s solution to that was to use several simple water features around the site to create multiple sounds of flowing water.
The brief was also to create a rustic yet contemporary look for the outdoor areas. Clean lines, yet nothing cutting edge. The designers decided to use stone as the primary element for the landscaping to give the space an earthy, grounded appearance.
The entry to the house is via an L-shaped plaza with multiple water-bodies, fountains and waterfalls on either side. The focal point is a stone feature wall with multi-level slit waterfalls setting the scene for a peaceful retreat right away. 50mm thick stone was used for the weirs made with custom-cut grooves. “To keep the rustic ambience, we did not want very intricate stone work,” says Sujata. The rockwall was created out of natural split stone and a stainless steel waterfall inserted into it.
This juxtaposition of textures – the smooth and the rough, the edgy and the traditional shows up also in the choice of plants. Rows of palms make peace with unending strings of fragrant frangipani trees. In the water bodies, lotus leaves float within the undulating motion created by the waterfalls and fountains.
The architects incorporated groundwater harvesting into the project. The focus, however, is firmly on the creative design and the possibilities of turning an awkward site into one that is soothing and a welcoming space for the family. “We managed to use the narrow space at the side and fulfilled the client’s brief about wanting to see and hear lots of water,” says Sujata, summing up the Oasis Design team’s efforts for providing a creative, contemporary solution to a vexing architectural problem.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Oasis Design Inc