Studio Course designed a terrace garden and fondly nick-named it ‘Verandah on the Roof’. Its metamorphosis from a simple terrace garden to a vibrant lounge makes it a perfect appendage to a home.
Perched on top of a duplex apartment of a 12 storey building, overlooking the beautiful race course in the city of Pune, this extraordinary place, ‘Verandah on the Roof’ as the Architect describes it, is far from the ordinary. Designer Kalpak Shah narrates how the client’s brief for a special place crafted in sync with their lifestyle, which revolves around books, food and plants, became their starting point.
He also shares how his clients wanted a place to unwind and to “immerse and indulge in the pleasures of one’s seeking”. What has emerged is a space so fluid in its form, that it seamlessly blurs the boundary which separates the inside from the outside. An anomaly which stands out from the norm while being so understated in its charm that it makes the user truly comfortable.
In many cultures around the word, the verandah has been like a tradition in architecture. It acts as a prelude; a link connecting two realms – the private and the public, a transitional space. Kalpak explains how the verandah, “an element central to making our houses into homes,” becomes an inspiration for the ‘Verandah on the Roof’. Just like a traditional verandah, this terrace cum garden is a partially covered library space, screened with large beautifully framed French windows extending to an open pantry and a garden reading nook.
This multi-functional space is connected to the main house below through a wooden staircase which is a confluence between the two levels – a perfect interface. The existing walls along the staircase were broken down which has helped to bring in more light while allowing the two floors to interact and function as one unit.
As you position yourself into this space, what stands out is the bold statement of the natural, un-lacquered cement grey, used as a backdrop to create an unconventional setting. The designer has cleverly used the traditional water proofing technique of ‘Ghotai’ – a vernacular term meaning – ‘constant movement of hand’.
The use of this traditional technique, as an ode to the past, leaves behind a beautiful colour, and the texture of hand imprints on the walls and the floor, which is just poetic! Kalpak explains, “The hand movement imprints on the plaster along with the Teak wood carpentry, constantly give out a sense of the tactility of the process that was employed.” This detail is true to the Studios’ design philosophy of using natural materials which give “warmth, humility, and earthiness to a space”.
An open plan, “low-on clutter” space allows for visual porosity through the entire span of the terrace while still allowing the three main functions to work independently. The library unit accommodates an open riser metal staircase which, while fulfilling the functional requirement of connecting to the store above is aesthetically crafted to avoid any visual clutter.
This minimalist design, absent of any ornamentation is reflected in the other custom designed fixtures too which are designed with the “notion to fade away”. The ambiguous edge that separates the indoor and the outdoor opens out to an open pantry where one can walk barefoot on the gravel path.
Here, again the designer plays on the senses – “walking on the gravel produces a sound which triggers the memory of being in the outdoors.” The reading nook surrounded by the garden patch and the lotus pond is a ‘tranquil setting’.
The spatial sequence experienced by a person navigating from the floor below is heightened by the play of light that one experiences. From the wooden staircase that brings one up to the library, to walking out on the graveled path leading up to an al fresco barbecue kitchen and further to the garden patch – the reading nook stands testimony for cleverness in play of light.
All elements of design from the organisation of the spaces to the colour, texture of the walls and the floor come together to give a bottom-up feel to the space. A contemporary design with a brilliant juxtaposition makes the most of its setting, from capturing the city’s views from its elevated position to a vibe of being rooted to the ground. The Architect sums it up perfectly, “The Veranda on the Roof has become a refuge where the shifting contexts constantly create new meanings.”
Text By Prachi Nikam Patel
Photographs Courtesy Hemant Patil