The coming together of the hand and mind is a simple equation but the coming together of the hand and the mind in precise proportions is an enviable equation. Sivana Farms is the result of one such equation!
Landscapes are best described as a vocabulary of form and surface, touched with contrast. If the proportions are right they radiate a collective appeal. It would be no exaggeration to state a space designed by landscape architect Kalpak Bhave radiates this very universal appeal. Bhave embarked upon his professional career as an architect after graduating from the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai in 1989. Soon after, he entered the green world of landscaping and has since then been bringing out grand creations involving nature.
Located 2 kilometres off Nagpur and about 50 kilometres from the Amravati 4 lane highway, Sivana Farms cover an impressive 75 acres of land, fringed by forests on three sides and the Kondhali-Katol road on the fourth. The architecture and landscape was conceived in a way to achieve simplicity and flexibility of use. The project comprises three types of farmhouse villas placed on three different sized plots.
Each plot is equipped with a 90% landscaped area that consists of a fruit orchard, kitchen garden, and party lawn. It also has a serving counter, internal road and parking. Each plot has its own character and ornamental planting style; this ensures that no two villas look alike. As Bhave tells us, “We have practically worked out different planting plans for each of the 123 plots. This has been done intentionally to maintain the identity of each villa.”
Gardens speak of collaboration between art and nature. We often imagine a palette of blues and greens when we paint a landscape on canvas. The entry to Sivana Farms is a spin-off of this notion. Kalpak explains, “The project entrance has been flagged by kites that represent the freedom that one feels at Sivana. These MS structures are painted in shades ranging from green to blue as they denote the depth of nature. This is because things close to us look green but turn blue as one goes further away.”
One cannot imagine a green stretch of land without a water body. A garden without its fountain is like a sentence without its verb. A central fountain surrounded by chiselled foliage that represents a twenty-four petal lotus greets visitors as they cross the circular traffic island at the entry. Speaking of water bodies, Bhave’s team has also designed a 60,000 square feet artificial lake in order to solve the problem of water in the area and to enrich the underground water table.
The lake holds around 60 million litres of water and is the project’s key attraction. The placement of multiple storm water drains ensures percolation of ground water resulting in a zero run-off. A large swimming pool dug out against the backdrop of a teak forest overlooks the lake.
An area of around 9 acres has been demarcated for use by the club. Built over the artificial lake the club also has a party lawn, stage for activities, pool deck, gazebo, open restaurant and open shower. Urban landscapes have the ability to spread us out and to also bring us together. Small nooks and corners with tables and chairs in the garden allow the landscape an opportunity to have its own intimate areas.
With winters dipping down to 3 to 4 degrees and summers burning just under 45 to 46 degrees celcius, plants had to be chosen such that would adapt to the drastic temperature variations. With a super compact form, stunning foliage and remarkable versatility Bhave managed to tackle this as well.
Flowering shrubs of Tecoma, Thevetia, Nerium, Mussaenda, Lantana and Calliandra to name a few have been used to articulate the space. Thus the effect of bright foliage has been used to retain the beauty of the landscape through changing seasons.
While texture and foliage keep a garden interesting, flowers offer moments of gratification. Each road in the avenue has a specific variety of flowering tree that offers indulgence to its viewers. Varieties such as Acacia, Kadamba, Peltophorum and Terminalia dot the avenues and adapt well to Nagpur’s dry weather.
A children’s play area offers various zones for kids of all ages with lots of shaded and play areas. Solar power has been contrived for use as back-up and also for street lighting that emits passive lighting in the evenings along the driveways. A restrained palette of materials has been employed: stone in the form of dressed masonry and pavers, corrugated roofs in blue and white atop white villas and just the different textures and colours of plants. An elongated site installs an axial driveway shaded by trees. All in all, Sivana Farms do not offer an escape from the city but an escape in the city!
Text By Kanupriya Pachisia
Photographs Courtesy Kalpak Y. Bhave