Landscape architect, Kishore D. Pradhan is adept at stitching together architectural and landscape elements into one unified experience, just like a quilt of finely embroidered pieces. The Konkan Farmhouse designed by him, symbolising rustic luxury in its entirety, displays a perfect example of his modus operandi.
A little developed shoreline, running south from Mumbai, all the way to Goa with its picturesque strip of coast, peppered with postcard beaches, fishing villages, ruins of magnificent forts and tropical backwaters is what is popularly called ‘Konkan’.
One can’t help but get attached to the nostalgic charm it exudes. When landscape architect, Kishore D. Pradhan set out on landscaping a farmhouse in Raigad, he started along the lines of his initial conversations with his client. He recalls, “The lady of the house hailed from the region and was passionate about reliving the memories of her childhood.”
Thus he created a plan where the garden is not just another feature of the house but a well-defined element. Pradhan explains, “The landscape design endeavours to recreate the typical old wadi ambience combined with a contemporary looking zone, relating to their present lifestyle.” Today the farmhouse has emerged into a perfect location for an authentic Konkan weekend to be enjoyed by family and friends.
Unlike conventional vacation homes seated on the seashore or among hilltops, this six acre farmhouse is situated on a river bank. This perennial river owes itself to an up-stream power generation plant. Respecting the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, juxtaposed with numerous wadis, the architectural team decided to limit the landscaped area and instead dovetailed it with the groves of mango, banana and coconut trees, to achieve an effortless transition to the orchard around.
Pradhan explains, “For the facility of cultivation, a wadi is generally serviced with paths and irrigation channels in a grid pattern. The orchard zone continues to have a grid pattern for access, and thus achieves visual continuity.” He further explains, “The use of the charbagh pattern fitted well into this geometry and character.” The presence of cascading water, fountains and a narrow rill at the central plateau, highlights the presence of natural water, which is again a important characteristic of the charbagh concept.
The plot slopes naturally towards the river bed making a sharp descent of nearly eight metres from the access road to the river edge. The house stood on the access road – the highest location on the site which permitted its inhabitants to enjoy splendid panoramic views. A large terraced deck next to the house ensures easy accessibility and invites people to step out and enjoy the mood-lit outdoors. A dry kund located at the central terrace, acts as a visual recall of the village water-body. It also doubles up as an informal amphitheatre, dipped in a Greek-like cultural ethnicity that once facilitated literary and musical evenings. “This,” Pradhan tells us, “satisfies the needs of the client’s rich cultural personality.” Mature coconut trees were specially ordered from Andhra Pradesh and placed along the central path to introduce an instant established feel in the outdoor spaces.
The house seems to be a simple concept of interlocking geometries. It has a three meter wide path all along its periphery. Thoughtful in approach, the architectural team shares, “the path not only allows for morning walks but also acts as a cart access for senior citizens, access for emergency vehicles and the security patrol of the entire site.”
A small parking space for family cars is located near the porch. The visitors’ parking is situated away from the main entrance to the house in order to ensure privacy and quietude around the bungalow. Pradhan shares, “The major challenge was the intense Konkan monsoon as well as the summer heat. The heavy rainfall brings about erosion and flooding. A general elevation of the ground level by controlled earth-filling ensures efficient storm water drainage into the river and also prevents ingress from neighbouring plots.”
Farmhouse design typically displays the use of natural elements and pastel shades. The Konkan farmhouse is a postcard replica of this trend. Natural stone in regular and irregular shapes and in earthy tones was used as path pavers. The Konkan area is famous for its snakes. Thus while selecting the plants special care was taken to avoid unruly and bushy ones. All accessible areas were either paved or covered with manicured grass to ensure a safe environment.
No garden is complete without a focal point. Urns on animal backs and topiary sculptures draw attention as they stand to mark their territories with a rustic disposition.
To conclude, one can rightly say that the unpretentious landscape of this farmhouse is in complete harmony with its idyllic surroundings and Pradhan has fully succeeded in transforming a slice of his client’s memories into a garden worthy of both admiration and enjoyment.
Text By Kanupriya Pachisia
Photographs Courtesy Kishore D. Pradhan