Abraham John Architects tropical luxury penthouse exemplifies the co-existence of the indoors with the outdoors in the city context.
The waves close in, creep on to the shoreline below and then ebb back into the sea, the shoreline darkening with this constant to and fro. On the other side, the trees crane their tops to reach in, fall short and hover in the periphery; the clouds bow low in a bid to sneak a peek into this ‘villa in the sky.’
At Abraham John Architects’ an important element of their design ethos is to re-connect architecture with nature as is evident in their penthouse project in Bandra, Bombay. This project won the National Runner-Up at the IIID Anchor Awards and has also been nominated for the World Interiors News Awards – WIN 2013.
Anca Florescu Abraham of the design team at Abraham John Architects explains the connect between the house and its surrounds, “One of the prime design principles followed while designing this house was to carefully consider its orientation to all the natural elements, sun, wind and water. It was important for the client that a connection with nature be established at all levels and that was what we set out to achieve.”
The penthouse has been designed with an open plan concept to integrate the indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing the surrounding vistas to flow in from the terrace garden and through the entire lower level.
“The open kitchen, dining and living areas were envisioned as a vast lounge,” says Alan Abraham.
The dining table and seating fashioned out of the bark of a teak tree form the focal point of this area. While the brushed Stainless Steel island platform is ideal for preparing lights meals and encourages interaction with the dining area, an enclosed kitchen has also been provided for more elaborate cooking. The use of glass to separate this part of the kitchen ensures that there is no visual obstruction in the flow but at the same time restricts the aromas and sounds from disrupting the ambience.
The bond with the outdoors remains intact as one ascends to the upper level with double story windows ensuring that the view is not split. “This was a logistical nightmare,” says Anca. “Window panes weighing 800kg each had to be hoisted to the top floors of the building from the outside. And of course, the sea breeze blowing in at high speeds added to the mammoth task. But the effect was worth it.”
Anca Abraham’s favourite spot in the apartment remains the master bedroom suite. She says, “What I love about the master bedroom is the fluidity of spaces that we have managed to achieve.” The master bedroom has been designed to take on the proportion of a grand suite. The bedroom, the private terrace, open spa-like master bathroom and the walk-in wardrobe have all been cleverly planned to make the most of the sea view.
The master suite gives the sense of blending into the surrounding landscape while retaining total intimacy.
The cantilevered wood and steel staircase set against imposing double story windows connects the previously disconnected floors, leading to the hi-tech glass-walled media room, another highlight of the project.
Automated roller blinds and projector screen have been concealed in the roof to drop down and convert the open media room into a large cosy home theatre. Artful lighting, an open bar and the wooden deck make the garden terrace ideal for entertaining under the starlit sky.
“Abraham John Architects’ forte lies in attention to detail and customization,” says Anca. “Honesty to design, client satisfaction and sustainability are the driving forces of our design approach.”
In this duplex penthouse both the client and the architect were in sync with regards to a modern, minimalist style as is reflected in the contemporary interiors and earthy neutral colour palette.
Also, functionality has played a parallel role to aesthetics in the design process. Easy maintenance has been prioritised, high quality materials have been used both for a better look and longevity.
Recycled tiles on the terrace, natural stone, solar heaters, solar shades and a program that maximises natural light and ventilation ensure that the house’s relationship with nature and its elements extends beyond the superficial.
Text By Himali Kothari
Photographs Courtesy Alan Abraham