The Tree Villa, designed by Mumbai-based Architecture BRIO, thrives in the midst of a thick forest, much like a refined child of the wild.
There is a difference between being ‘among the trees’ and settling into nature’s calming embrace, with tree branches quite literally inter-locked at some spots. This clearly describes the feel of Tree Villa, because just standing aloof is not its style. The home is a collection of sunny spaces inside with pristine white curtains that sway in the cross breezes.
The setting is the vicinity of the famed Buddhist Kuda caves in the city of Tala, Maharashtra. It is to the credit of the team from Architecture BRIO, comprised of Robert Verrijt, Shefali Balwani and Khushboo Asrani, that the home isn’t crowded with cumbersome props. The overall look is clean, fresh and sturdy. Polished wood co-exists with the natural variety and the inside-outside flow means tree branches slither into private spaces like old friends.
And then there is all the glass, both reflecting and revealing, which accords the residence an inescapable air of elegance. Everything about the home is inspired by nature, and the way it has been designed, only enhances the unspoilt character of its surroundings.
This is a 225 sq m property with a river landscape in its neighbourhood. The Tree Villa stands on a cliff, built to house 6 people in a free-flowing scheme with three enclosures that only loosely subscribe to the term. “Rather than compartmentalising activities into distinct rooms, the main space is broken up into three smaller enclosures that are positioned within it, ensuring a visual connection to the forest in multiple directions from all rooms. A pantry-cum-loft unit, a semi-outdoor bathroom and a curtained bed enclosure act as anchors and define interstitial zones such as the breakfast room and the lounge.”
Among these sections, the most visually satisfying is the bathroom nook, with a free-standing bath tub sitting beside a Garuga fruit tree that has been allowed to puncture through, its branches rising skywards like arms engaged in prayer. White Plexiglas panels sandwiched between vertical timber slats close this courtyard off, but not completely, perfectly representing the unique mix of private and public that defines the layout here. One of the branches wiggles into the main room and finally escapes through the thatched roof.
The home is accessed by first trudging across the forest floor and then across a timber bridge; then one moves on to a stilts-elevated, generous deck that wraps around the house’s girth like a sarong. The deck completes its purpose as an expansive viewing platform, an element a house like this just cannot do without.
The Tree Villa, true to its name, doesn’t just live surrounded by wild greenery but also apes the verticality and branching subsections of a tree. Some of the furniture pieces are reclaimed specimens while others are custom-made, but they all are confidently simple pieces with some sinewy chair legs throwing the slightest of caution to the wind. Everything from the sofa upholstery to the bed and table linen to the tall tie-up curtains channel a sublime range of white to grey hues, while some cushions and rugs summon spots of darker greys and browns.
The large glass swathes here are more walls than windows, their views highlighting the fact why nothing inside the house need bother too hard to look beautiful.“A large luxurious king-size bed within a soft linen fabric enclosure can be opened or closed off, depending on the demands of privacy,” states the team.
In this space is a small dining area that looks out to a deck and all the lushness beyond. The pantry-cum-loft section here houses a kitchenette and follows the outdoor bathroom look template with white Plexiglas. “The top of the unit is accessed by a wooden ladder and provides an additional bed. Looking down on the surrounding forest, it is almost like a ‘pirates den’, a great cosy hideout for young kids,” adds the team.
A little away from the dining zone is a small coffee table spot, privy to the beautiful views from the other side as well as to a lovely dark spiral staircase that seems to wink and descend into a secret lair. The lower level secret zone reveals itself to be the guest suite with thick forest views. “You can take a shower here with merely a curved glazed sheet separating you from the surrounding forest life. A timber floored outdoor deck and attached staircase invites you to take a hike in the forest,” the team states.
In this understated universe, it is almost too easy to miss the touches of brassy metal in the form of wash basins, faucets, and lamp shades. The table lamps and floor lamps are discreet, peeping out from designated corners as if afraid of disrupting the silence.
To sum it up, if one has to describe Tree Villa…simply gorgeous!
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy Photographix / Sebastian + Ira