‘Tropical Alchemy’ by Architecture + Design Ankit Prabhudessai, in Margao, blends the best design inspirations from both the traditional Portuguese and the modern legacies of Goa. It is a sprawling home full of free-flowing spaces that share an inseparable connection with the surrounding greenery.
This home in Goa is where sunshine comes to lounge. Sprawling and airy, this sumptuously designed home in Margao channels the best of the more modern beachy appeal of its location while staying rooted to the traditional homey warmth of old Goan architecture and at the same time paying handsome homage to the place’s Portuguese legacy.
The abode is named ‘Tropical Alchemy’, and it is more than fitting. “The building attempts to tell the stories about the relationship of the indoors with the outdoors, the body with nature and that of its traditional connection with the roots of interlayered aesthetic history with transparent and rhythmical legibility through the contemporary interpretation of architecture,” the team attests.
The home was built nearly 14 years ago, with the team from Architecture + Design Ankit Prabhudessai now responsible for its lovely re-design and re-imagination. On the outside, the compound keeps it simple and more elemental, with Heliconia plants doting the cuboid swathe’s terraced periphery and a breathing stretch of natural views available all around, all the time. A spare seating arrangement sits among the whitewashed walls, complementing and contrasting the cragged exposed laterite stone walls.
The design team’s most remarkable touch to the project is the shifting array of greenery that the home is afforded at all times, often with just a minor degree of separation by glass. A la Le Corbusier, the rooms experience a near continuous but framed feel of the natural bounty outside, primarily through wide set windows and doors.
But even when segments of the pad retreat into private corners, the green reminders are everywhere, in the form of a beauteous central tree, potted décor plants and green walls. The plush interiors and the entire subtle green ambience imbue the rooms with an almost spa-like quality. Also soothing music playing from invisible speakers fills up the fragrant air here!
In its layout, the home follows the current trend of progressive revelation, opening up its connected spaces one-by-one like a lovely puzzle, instead of laying all the spaces out straight up. In a home such as this, this tactic is a brilliant move, because it accentuates the feeling of moving across waves of sunlight and wind flowing through the spaces.
As the rooms change tenor, helped by their intricately patterned tiled flooring or wall accents, the flowy feel remains because of the dominance of natural light in the décor scheme. “The spaces in the house blend into each other creating a free flowing plan that connects the front lawn to the green backyard interlaced with elements from the Goan-Portuguese history,” states the team.
Visitors entering the ‘balçao’(traditional name for ‘entrance porch’) are met by a lotus pond that doubles up as a reflection pool. “A teak wood door with a ‘janger dancer’ sculptural face placed on the lintel, an industrial cage light adorned with a tube shaped filament bulb and the red IPS(Indian Patented stone) finished bench with Azulezos or Goan painted tiles embedded in it define the balçao,” explains the team. The finish here is simple and focused on basic lines, brought to good attention by the bush hammered black granite flooring.
In this placid universe, the spiritual centre is the fragrant Frangipani Courtyard. The tree’s bold, somewhat crooked countenance stands at the centre of a small pebbled font, which is hugged by bush hammered granite cladding, and which is yet again hugged by colourful statement tiles. The branches look up to a skylight, and during dimmer hours, hanging lamps throw whimsical shadows around it.
“The vibrancy of the Heritage tiles contrasts with the bare white walls and the skylight in the ceiling. The Frangipani tree creates exquisite shadows making the visitor aware of the changing sun direction and eventually rendering the space completely dynamic,” states the team.
A bench fashioned out of a jackfruit tree trunk here allows any fascinated visitor a chance to sit and stare, while sunlight bounces off of antique mirrors affixed on the walls.“The intricately woven low-height cane chairs predominant to the traditional Goan architecture facing the koi-pond and Frangipani tree act as a cosy coffee corner at dawn,” offers the team.
The interiors break tradition with their personality-specific avatars in different bedrooms with high-polish turmeric-coloured, and blue, flooring, lots of pop culture referencing through framed wall-art pieces, cushion covers and masks, and low-rise Boho furniture items like diwans and chests. In most rooms, the no-frill charm of concrete/granite cladding and polished wood is off-set by an array of delightfully-patterned tiling, artful lamps, and carefully placed potted plants.
In the selection of window drapes, rugs, upholstery, bathroom floor cladding, door carving detail, and the eye-catching floral detailing in the walls of the dining section present ample evidence of the design team’s deep love for intricate patterns, and their use as décor highlighting tools.
Tropical Alchemy’s transition into a new visual medium was spurred in part by the age factor. It wanted to catch up with the times, but with its distinct pride in the old form of things intact.The remodelling was also inspired by the need to create broader, more eclectic socialising spaces within the home for the owners. The team from Architecture + Design Ankit Prabhudessai has translated these needs with the help of an eloquent template that values tradition but doesn’t eschew modernity. The designers have succeeded in creating a vibrant home that seems alive and full of possibilities. What can be a more impressive feat than that?
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Prashant Bhat