Chennai based Shripal and Venkat Architects design a beachfront villa with clear-span interiors and stunning views of the sea waters. Inspired by the five natural elements, the house is a continuous dialogue between nature and architecture.
Pools disappear into the infinity of sea waters, and the building sits at peace in the planar landscape which seems to be merely an extension of the sandy shore – this simple and stunning beachfront villa on Chennai’s East Coast Road pulls out all stops. Designed by SVA, Shripal and Venkat Architects, the elegant contemporary home showcases the vast sea as the main feature of its design, while creating within the spaces, a calm escape from the hustle-bustle of urban life.
The 1000 sq. m. contemporary rectilinear villa is in direct response to the client’s brief, which sought a ‘simple, clean residence for the family – a home that connected with nature.’
Architect Shripal Munshi, one of the principals at SVA, explains, “In architecture there can be many solutions to one situation and all of them can be equally good. The challenge is to find the appropriate one.” With nature as inspiration, the SVA team, conceived the villa as ‘a pavilion nestled between the East and West halves of the site, poised among the five natural elements.’
“The idea was to strike a balance between nature and architecture, hence the theme – ‘the house of earth, sky, water and Prana,” architect Shripal elaborates. Adhering to ‘Vaastu’ principles, SVA designed the architecture, keeping the dominating influence of the sea as the core – hence a linear plan around the central East-West axis with large glazed openings, was devised.
This not only allowed the inner spaces to flow unhindered outside onto the decks, giving the external facade a very fluid and light appeal; but also maximised cross ventilation while taking full advantage of the surrounding views and perpetual breeze.
Capturing our attention as soon as we enter inside is the large uninterrupted span of the spaces augmenting the spectacular views with natural ease. Points out architect Shripal, “There was a perfect marriage of architecture and structural design, which helped us achieve our concept of ‘fluid yet intimate spaces’. A clever combination of post tensioned slabs and shear walls, eliminated the need for perimeter beams and big columns, thus allowing cantilevered floating planes, and enabling the large spans we wanted.”
As we further explore the monochromatic beige interiors, an SVA trademark, it is hard to miss the underlying mantra – ‘less is more and less is good’, which has been diligently followed in all aspects of the project – architecture, landscape and interiors. Breaking this beige simplicity are warm hardwood panels and veneer accents, which together reinforce the open, large spatial span.
Continuing the minimalistic vocabulary, the designers subtly give the open floor plan a clear zonal distinction, using textured walls in mushroom tones to highlight planes and the central lines. Says the team, “In the understated elegance envisaged, the challenge was not about what to put on the walls and in the spaces but rather what to keep out.”
So they avoided superficial treatments and architectural strategies and instead used Indian and Balinese art to adorn some of the key focal points. Even on the upper floors the bedrooms follow a similar minimalist, elegant style, but the material palette varies as travertine marble and elaborate wood accents define the spaces.
Without doubt, the most alluring feature of the villa is the way the perimeter glazed surfaces blur the margins between inside and outside spaces, and add to the elegant simplicity. While decks and pools, continuing from the living and dining space, create a heavenly atmosphere on the lower floor, on the upper floor semi-covered terraces become the private paradise.
The natural setting makes it easy for any architecture on the beachfront to be a mesmerising space, but the SVA team took it a notch higher. Using large spans, open planning and minimalist architectural language they let nature be at the fore, dominating every space of the villa, allowing the elements of ‘earth, sky and water’ to come together in perfect harmony with the architecture.
Architect Shripal Munshi believes that, “in this house where there is abundant light and air with unending views of the sea and sky – there is ‘high prana’.” And a building with its soul connecting with nature becomes almost timeless.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Mia Studio, Auroville