The Open House is a beautiful penthouse in Ghatkopar, Mumbai; it is a family’s uncluttered, free-wheeling ensconce of peace and has been designed by Studio Nishita Kamdar.
Judging by how well it does the job, one is forced to wonder sometimes if concrete was in fact invented for the sole purpose of making all non-grey colours look extra charming! At The Open House in Mumbai, concrete is an aesthetic enabler as well as a cooling agent. But in its own simple way, it also helps break the ersatz design sensibilities of its surroundings.
“The typology of homes around here is blingy; stones and “imported” Italian marble finishes compete with veneer polished to its glossy best while expensive chandeliers scream out to their Swarovski brothers,” states Nishita Kamdar of Studio Nishita Kamdar, which designed the penthouse’s interiors.
In the context of Mumbai, ‘space’ is almost a philosophical entity. There is so little of it, and it is all so unevenly distributed, that architects and designers face no dearth of creative challenges.
The Open House, located in Ghatkopar East, and privileged with more floor space than an average city home, is still understandably biased towards low clutter.
The brief asked for a simple, functional home, and the team from Studio Nishita Kamdar inscribed the answer to that request in every corner. The space manoeuvring, furniture-sharing, and door-less connectivity of this home are simply delightful.
The design team has realised a layout that is ideal for a family that is looking for a living space that is personal and private, but still has solid character. Two design interventions helped achieve this effect here. The first one was to do away with a strict door-enclosed-rooms policy. The living and common areas of the home have been planned to be fluid and inter-connected, and flushed with substantial sweeps of natural light and ventilation.
The double level living room melds effortlessly into the dining area as well as the kitchen that stands adjacent.
The dining area and kitchen coupling has an interesting element in the form of retractable metal and glass doors that can be pulled out when the need to segregate arises. It is a minimal and smart addition that speaks of the team’s highly nuanced approach to space-division.
“For privacy, these doors can be shut and form 2 distinct zones while still allowing light to filter in. This also allows the family to constantly engage with each other even when one member is in the kitchen and the others are eating at the table. There is a constant visual connect to all the spaces from here,” says Kamdar.
The other design manouvre was the allocation of discreet storage spaces around the home. Wherever there are walls here, there could be hiding places that hold the family’s belongings and private relaxation spaces.
The most brilliant example of it is the upper level media room which is concealed behind a beautiful blue wall that has a built-in partition that can be pulled across like a curtain and then drawn back. Its effect seems almost straight out of a fantasy fiction novel.
The chosen colour palette is a mix of the sublime that has been of-set with polished wood, white walls, and natural concrete.
In the rooms, the whimsy is established by brightly-coloured upholstery and cushions, while in the bathroom spaces, the job is fulfilled by busy-patterned tile fixtures. The interiors are sparsely populated with tall chic vases that in some places hold sturdy stalks of plants or flowers.
The flooring in the bedrooms is of deep chestnut, and here the spaces are made more interesting with the introduction of statement accessories like a beautiful swing, an angular red reading table and a tall mirror. “Hardwood in its natural form is treated in various ways; we have tried to reuse the smallest scrap of wood produced on site. Door handles, frames of art work, diwan backrests, were all made from leftover plywood and hardwood on site,” adds Kamdar.
The lamp fixtures, like almost everything here, are elegant and restrained, with a hanging cluster at the edge of the metal; the wooden staircase connecting the two levels of the living room is especially beautiful in its graceful form.
This temple of beauty opens out to an 800 sq ft terrace, where the brownness of the wood cladding gets happily punctured by colourful DIY pots and the natural delights of an open sky. Another evidence of the design team’s nuance here – the planting of fragrant herbs and plants like oregano, mint, basil and champa; these fill the space with soothing fragrances.
The Open House is a 4,200 sq. ft. testament to smart designing. The team from Studio Nishita Kamdar has built a home that is neither cluttered nor too sparse, neither too traditional nor too cold and minimal. And it managed to do all of this while keeping the family’s needs firmly at top priority. Now, that’s a great balancing trick if there is any.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Kunal Bhatia