A no-frills farmhouse in Surat, Gujarat, has been conceived by Neogenesis+Studi0261. Intended to take over as the primary home, the architects have endeavoured to anchor the bungalow to the location through their unpretentious choice of materials.
With an existing home in the busy heart of Surat subjected to all the accompanying noise and bustle, this 4,000 sq mt site at Dumas, close to the beach, was a contrast in the peace and quiet it offered. “But this was not to be a week-end getaway permanently. Eventually, the client intended to move to this farmhouse and make it home,” says Chinmay Laiwala of Neogenesis.
“We’ve tried to merge the structure with the landscape,” adds Jigar Asarawala of Studi0261, which collaborated with Neogenesis on this assignment. “The selection of materials, the way they’ve been used, the size of the openings in the structure…all have been driven by this idea.
Consequently, wood has been used, eschewing plywood and laminates, exposed concrete has been left in its natural form and kota stone clads the floor. The verandah has stone pitching and a random rubble masonry wall. All these come together to create a non-fussy, earthy palette.
The plinth of the bungalow is high, since the site is deeper than the main road and prone to water logging. Situated close to the beach, the drainage is not adequate. However, the teak wood louvred windows extend from the floor to the ceiling and endeavour to make the home one with the surrounding chickoo tree plantation, when thrown open. The L-shaped lotus pond is both 15 ft long and wide, providing an attractive vista from the porch of the house.
Within, the living room is devoid of colour, except for the natural colours of the materials used. The ceiling is in pinewood, while the flooring is mirror polished golden kota.
“The client was very reluctant to use kota on the floor.” – ‘This is what is used in bus-stops,’ he said. We had to do some sampling before he was convinced – and the stone subsequently has become only glossier with use, as is customary with kota,” says Jigar.
The television is mounted on a wooden screen which has gaps in its pattern, through which glimpses of the courtyard beyond are visible. The bar is located on the far side of the covered pool, which extends from the living-dining space.
The courtyard provides a void, to bring in sunlight and ventilation. Flanked by the main corridor on one side and the kitchen on the other, it is located on the northern side of the house and is used as a breakfast spot. “The dead wall provides privacy from the adjacent site and was constructed from granite and kota wastage from the site,” says Chinmay.
A plumeria plant adds greenery as it sprouts from a handkerchief of a lawn, whose periphery is asymmetrically defined by narrow strips of granite and kota. The contrasting light and dark shades of stone create a pleasing linear geometry. The kitchen platform has been cast in concrete, with a counter in granite.
With the sun dappled courtyard running its length on one side, it is a dramatic space in browns and blacks. Also on the ground floor, a glass-roofed shower carries forward the open-to-the-elements vocabulary.
“We toyed with the idea of doing away with the glass roof, but decided against it, as it would add to the maintenance, with more frequent cleaning becoming necessary,” says Chinmay. The shower itself is free standing, positioned on a platform which is a foot away from the surrounding walls.
A spiral staircase to the floor above curls within a tight 6 ft x 6 ft space. “Without touching the walls, it is supported only at its base and at the ceiling. Made of wood and MS, we’ve crunched it to get a twist. Its very curvature has added to its stability,” explains Jigar. The master bedroom has wooden flooring, while the guest bedroom has a floating wardrobe.
“Since guest rooms don’t require much storage, we’ve positioned the wardrobes much higher than customary, so that more flooring is visible under them. This created the illusion of a larger space,” says Chinmay.
The shutters of the wardrobes are in wired glass, its subtle green tint in sync with the rest of the colour palette. Clerestory windows above the wardrobes bring in light, while linear tubes at the junction of the wall and ceiling have customised wooden pelmets. The armchairs in both bedrooms were salvaged from a vendor of discarded furniture and all the soft furnishings are by Tarika Asarawala.
In the master bath, a large mirror doubles the space, creating the illusion of two washbasins, sitting back to back. A monolithic granite base supports the basin, creating a minimalistic vocabulary.
“In all of our work, we strive to create an authentic ‘sense of place’. The nexus of architecture, contemporary culture and current technology is the constant focus of our endeavours,” says Chinmay.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photographs Ishita Sitwala of The Fishy Project