A modest facade belies contemporary and sustainable interiors in this innovative project designed by the award-winning architectural firm Pragrup.
Somewhere in Bengaluru is a 5400 sq. ft. private residence. Bordered by a simple wall, the brick and unplastered building looks raw and almost unfinished. Yet behind this unassuming facade is a home resplendent with sunshine, air and other natural elements.
Designed and created by Pragrup, an award-winning Bengaluru-based architectural firm, this house is defined by its exposed brick and unplastered grey walls. Built on a rectangular site, the building is surrounded by a garden on all sides. The architects and the client wanted to incorporate a traditional feel in the house, with a courtyard and sit-outs. Long benches and rattan furniture add to the charm.
Pragrup is a great believer in using locally-sourced materials, available at distances not more than 100 kilometers from Bengaluru. The traditional sun-dried red bricks were procured from Mallur, a small town in Karnataka. Laying them was labour intensive but cost effective. “We are an energy-conscious firm, primarily interested in sustainable kinds of work,” says Principal Architect Ravindra Kumar.
Kumar elaborates upon the materials used in this project: “For the house we used natural and recycled materials throughout. We sourced materials from old and abandoned houses. For the ceiling we used re-engineered timber, for the walls sundried brick and for the floor we used natural stone. The sundried bricks have a lovely colour to them, which is different from kiln dried bricks.”
Sticking to the traditional format, the seating areas are large and comfortable. Inside, long chattai (bamboo) blinds filter the sun, eliminating the need for curtains.
“The whole ground floor area is very light and translucent,” says Kumar. The high, sloping roof covered in Mangalore tiles was placed over steel purlins over wooden posts. The clever use of skylights and windows on upper levels bring in adequate daylight throughout the house.
On the ground floor, the living and dining room are simple and elegant. Traditional polished teak-wood furniture upholstered in pale raw silk provides an interesting contrast to the red brick work. The use of traditional furniture against the contemporary background makes for an interesting juxtaposition and gives the space that little sense of adventure and daring which makes you look around twice, trying to take it all in.
Between the living and dining area is the Puja (Prayer) area. Polished white pebbles on the floor demarcate the area and lend a sense of calm and serenity. A holy basil plant takes pride of place in the centre of the area; the client had a custom made stone planter created for it, with Sanskrit inscriptions on it.
The puja area sits under a skylight, once again providing ample sunlight throughout the day. Through most of the house, unpolished grey granite has been used as the flooring. “We wanted the house to have the look of traditional homes with their rough stone floors,” says Kumar.
Bridging the space between the two floors are staircases “on a steel pipe”. From the living room, the staircase leads upstairs to the bedrooms. The innovative staircase is built around a steel pipe, the hollow of which was filled with cement concrete to take the weight of the stairs.
The master bedroom has limestone flooring and a mud centre ceiling while all three bathrooms have yellow Jaisalmer stone. In a yet further attempt at creating a sustainable house, the bathrooms are without shower cubicles thus saving on construction and no elaborate bath tubs are present which reduces unnecessary water usage.
The whole house including the joinery composition is derived from biodegradable & renewable resources. The house has been delineated as an extension of the wood form of the surrounding landscape. The timber and glass encase a clarity that blends in the naturalness of the surroundings.
Sustainable ideas jump out at every corner in this house. The walls were left unplastered to retain the texture of the brick and use the natural warmth of the brick to enliven the space. Water and energy are used intelligently and with all the improvements incorporated in the design, the house has a low carbon footprint that the client and the architects are both proud of.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Shalini Sehgal