Canna Patel of HCP Interior Architecture Pvt. Ltd. designs a guest unit for an existing bungalow in Bilimoria, Gujarat, while refurbishing the existing home. With optimal utilisation of the site, both structures enjoy the large garden which separates and yet connects them.
A three-decade old family house full of memories. A large linear plot. A new contemporary guest unit to coexist within this space. As all of us know, an exercise such as this has more complex requirements, compared to designing a stand-alone structure.
And to make the project more special to Canna, the architect of the old house was her father, Hasmukh Patel. Art consultant Sonal Patel, assisted Canna with the accessories and soft furnishings. Moreover, the client, Pramit Patel, is Canna’s cousin.
Says Sonal, “What is visible now is only the glamour. We used to spend 10 hours travelling every day to and from the site, and were able to work only six hours a day. Typically, we would leave Ahmedabad at 4 am and return by 7.30 pm.” Mili Amin, Associate Designer, recalls, “This may be a second home, but it is used very frequently, especially by Pramit. His wife, Kinnary, usually visits only during the vacations.”
The Bilimora site where the existing house rested is a long narrow site with no views of the surroundings. The challenge was to create a building within the existing site without overpowering the existing house or blocking any views of a beautiful landscaped garden from the existing verandah and terrace.
Dr. Mukesh Patel (founder of Lineworks, an art management company), has supplied the artworks, which include the white swans in the old house and the large swan in the garden. “We promote the works of young artists, resulting in artworks that are inspired and creative, yet affordable. Moreover, art is integrated as an element during the design process rather than as an afterthought to cover an area or just as ornamentation,” he says.
“The older structure is a second home for Pramit, who uses it for about 15 days every month. His primary home is in Mumbai, but he owns a large industry in Bilimoria, and since there is no suitable hotel around, he needed the guest unit for clients from overseas,” says Canna.
She is particularly happy with the utilisation of the plot, wherein its size does not appear diminished in spite of the new structure within its boundaries.
Unexpectedly, the brief here was not that the new guest unit should appear to be an extension of the old, but rather that it should have an international feel to it.
It is designed as a single storey linear structure, consisting of two bedrooms. a lounge space, a small pantry, dining room and swimming pool that stretches the length of the building. A small Jacuzzi area was also incorporated for the client to unwind at the end of a busy work day.
The colours used are soothing – not the predictable vibrant colours of India. There is a five-star hotel feel to the space and the rooms even have luggage racks for the guests.
“The guest unit has its back to the wall which separates the plot from the road. All windows are facing the garden within, with full height openings,” says Canna.
In addition to creating the new guest unit, she also handled the refurbishing of the old home and the landscaping of the garden. This is not a typical home for a nuclear family with two children.
Canna maintains that the arrangement of the furniture and particularly the headboard can suggest a different feel to the design. “Just as a turban can identify the social standing of a person, the headboard of a bed can be qualified in a similar way,” she asserts.
Adds Mili, “We’ve used warm tones and the living room is a gathering space for many friends. In the master bedroom, peach tones emphasise the high sloped ceiling, while a big hand painted flower on the wall is a motif picked up from the curtains.”
Canna maintains that all the senses should be stimulated by a design. Here, in addition to the visuals, there are different textures: the sound of water and the fragrance of the garden.
Nature is romanticised, with the greenery, the water body and the Jacuzzi. Moreover, she believes that design should be contextual not only in terms of the site, geography and weather, but also in the social milieu…which may be getting increasingly western, but within which we continue to reflect our Indian roots in many ways.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photographs Courtesy Hemant Patil