Despite its unusual plot shape and size, The Gallery House is a place where everything comes together – architecture brilliance, airy spaces, functional ease and innovative use of textures.
When Bharat Sawhney, the builder, conceptualised the project in Chhatarpur, Delhi, it was meant to be just a farmhouse. But it evolved into a residence – the Gallery House – when Mr. Surinder Sud and his wife decided to make it their permanent home.
Many factors had to be considered to accommodate this conversion – size, shape, vaastu and retaining its core objective were just some of them. Mukul Arora, one of the principal architects of DADA Partners, a multi-disciplinary design firm in Gurgaon, discusses the different challenges, “The project needed to have the openness associated with a farmhouse, but also had to be functional for everyday living. The plot size here was much smaller (about a quarter acre) than the usual 2.5 acres parcel of farm land, which made it challenging to incorporate free spaces. To add to this, the plot shape was triangular.”
Sometimes, a project’s stand-out features only emerge due to the very constraints that it has. The Gallery House is a fitting example of this phenomenon. To maximise the use of the triangular plot, minimal setbacks were left at the back of the house, allowing for a large frontage that accommodates a deliberately understated driveway and porch along with liberal landscaping.
The swimming pool to the tapering right adds to the tranquil appearance of the entrance. Couple of Buddha stones are tactically placed to add interest – one near the entrance door and the other, right next to the pool. White stucco finish along the borders of the building and the roof folds, extensive use of glass as sliding doors and stylishly arranged wooden battens present an arresting picture of the façade.
Talking about the choice of wooden battens on the exterior, Mukul Arora says, “The battens bring coherence, bind the roof to the floor and provide a balance to the solid void composition, which otherwise leans towards too much open space. They also help with privacy as they help shield the transparent glass doors and panels.” The theme of the solid teak battens extends even to the boxed balcony above the drawing room that juts out of the top floor.
Additionally, there was the challenge of installing the battens delicately. “We fixed steel rods at the top and bottom, inserted the battens and let gravity do its job. To avoid damage and cracks on the edges due to rain, we secured them using metal cover clamps on the top edge,” explains Arora.
In contrast to this vertical timber composition of the façade, heavier sand-blasted and flamed granite slabs are arranged tectonically in the entrance area. As you walk through the grey quartzite cobblestone driveway flanked by potted plants and manicured lawns, you enter the sheltered porch. The low-rise canopy enveloping this leisure area creates a wonderful sense of intimacy.
A solid wood pivot door, then, welcomes you to the entrance lobby of the house. The ground floor layout lays emphasis on movement in the north and privacy in the south. It is planned with no big doors or enclosures, instead opting for sub-lobbies and cut-out areas that ensure a sense of natural progression from one end of the house to another.
The entertaining zones such as the drawing and dining to the left and the master bedroom to the right earmark the bookends of this stretched out gallery-like space. Other service areas, kitchen and secondary bedrooms are tucked neatly behind.
Conspicuous volumes of open space greet us on the first floor. While the stairs begin at the deeper end of the living room at the bottom, as one moves upwards, the experience changes dramatically. Getting off the stairs, the capacious layout that comes with the vertical shift makes it easy to understand why the Gallery House is named so. The roominess here is partly because the ground floor is heavy with the most functional rooms, which is in accordance with the clients’ preference.
Here, the décor is in alignment with the transition points. At different points as you turn, art pieces and tapestries break the monotony of the openness. A substantial amount of rugs and carpets adorning the space reflect the couple’s taste. Gallery House’s visual language is contemporary and classy, and its architecture has a singular approach of facilitating a better engagement with nature. In that sense, it stands apart from your typical farmhouse with an innovative style.
Text By Ramya Srinivasan
Photographs Ranjan Sharma from Lightzone India