Kantam Farmhouse By Squelette Designs | Ahmedabad, Gujarat

The client Mr. Govind Choksi is an opulent jeweler of the town. He is having his family business shop in the walled city and has a fondness for the walled city architecture of Ahmedabad.

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In uncertain times, while 'Well-being is new normal' a pause in hustling life and connecting with nature through body, mind, and spirit in harmony with the surrounding is much more essential. The idea was to develop one of his lands in the outskirt of the city. Discussing the same we came up with a concept to develop a stamping ground where we can sustain key virtues of ‘Pole City Architecture’ and contemplate architecture in contemporary style.

Away from the cityscape, the stamping ground is nestled in a site surrounded by verdant topography. A conscious step to cut off from the urban clutter and experience absolute solitude takes back to nature was the main brief. Staying true to their brief, our response was an unimposing structure tailor-made for the beautiful serene site.

This site is in the urban sprawl of the city of Ahmedabad has a 6000 sq m. plot area with a contour difference of 3m from one end to the other. Restricting the height of the structure to one floor to blend it with humble surroundings. The house was designed on the hip of the landforms to avoid cut-fills and develop an imperceptible landscape.

Adaptive reuse was the prime idea to design and develop sustainable contemporary premises. Contemplating materials and space orientations allows the climate-responsive architecture. Considering the requirements they wanted 3 bedrooms for the family gathering on weekends, a connecting interactive space, a meditation room, and a kitchen + dining area.

We distinctively conceptualized the requirement. So we went from part to whole- whole to part, inside-out process of form and space development. Keeping architecture that fulfills the requirements comprising the ‘Pole house’ virtues and embarking it by planning in such a way that it unfolds in nature and surroundings. So the major concept was to praise the entry through a journey between the layered plantation, that subconsciously avert the routine state of mind and entering into own paradise. Coming to the architecture, the building is placed on a higher contour of the site so it can connect to the surrounding context and blend with contextual ecology.

The architecture was planned to have the heart - as courtyard which act as the connecting space to all the spaces unfolds gradually and makes the space more breathable by allowing the light to penetrate inside the house. Keeping sustainability in mind the built form has been planned in such a way that it opens up in north and east directions by having every space with inimitable views and connections. The only common connection every space has is the courtyard. Where else Vastu planning was a concern we accommodated it and oriented each space having the best wind and light inflow. Also not just middle court the spaces have been enclosed with various types of courts having a play of plants, lights, and shadows. Considering the climate-responsive architecture and reducing the carbon footprint in such a prosperous land and context. Also if we talk about the space connections, all the spaces have been designed in such a way that none of the solid material or solidity confined any connectivity or vision.

The traditional methodology of "Pol-houses of Ahmedabad" to create a connecting space in the middle of the building which acts as a breathing space to the built mass and creates a comfortable environment inside the building even in the extreme 45° C temperature of summer times. The spaces amalgamate by a connecting courtyard and minimal contemporary aesthetics. The emerging ephemeral landscape through inside-outside connections makes it more green and sustainable. The landscape is divided into landforms connected by different types of courts makes it more surprising. "The Bougainvillea Court" towards the swimming pool which connects the built-form to serene landscape and context. Tranquil and experiential spaces allied to make it paradise. Talking about the materials we focused on vernacular architecture and albeit to reduce concrete proportions in entire premises.

Getting into the details for the same, the wholesome structural system executed on pile foundation till the plinth. The walls are from locally made bricks and have a lime texture finish above them to diminish the temperature and make the built mass comfier in Ahmedabad's climate. The openings and entry to particular places have been kept in temporary wall systems and not making it solid by using construction materials. The roofs are of the ISMB section having insulation and ceiling at the bottom and corrugated sheet with solar panels placed above on the top. Sustainability has been achieved by using reusable and recyclable materials and reducing concrete. Also, roofs have been planned to match the adequate direction to place solar above to make it zero energy building. As we respect nature and so we believe to reinstate the sources like water. That has been achieved through rainwater harvesting and percolation well (groundwater recharge well)

Coming to the interior part the client demolished some old structures on one of the land. A complete adaptive reuse concept in which some of the elements have been sustained and revamped, at another end some of the furniture has been commissioned from old pole house’s flotsam and jetsam elements. The antique polish and use of veneer give it more warmth and contemporary touch. The patterns replicate heritage values in every detail with minimal configuration.

The majority of areas focused on infusing natural lights including toilets having internal courtyards. The major lighting well is the heart- courtyard. Throughout the day you feel an ample amount of natural light and ventilation along with the play of shadows in the pergola and design elements. The building opens up/ unfolds at every different view, where some of the spaces have plantation courts while some connect to spill-over spaces towards the bougainvillea court. And considering that all the spaces connect to the heart which is the courtyard. So in every different time frame, the space will have atypical light and shadow quality. Also after the twilight the atmosphere there has purity in air and the ecology in the surrounding becomes magical. We kept the night ambiance soft and dim so that they can enjoy the Bush dinner / Poolside barbecues under the star-spangled sky.

The major idea is its journey in which someone enters in a narrow walking trail coalesced with plantation and a large water body at the entrance to make anyone cut-off from the routine city life. The journey transpose to a pause point at the entrance having a meditation room kept floating from a large stone wall. The below water body as reflective water element to amalgamates overall vibes. The stone wall at the front gives a pause at the long trail journey and makes you more connected with the natural elements and space curiosity. Entering the house the curiosity converts the mesmerizing unfolding spaces. Coming to the context connection we talk about if you see any space or passage it all the way blends to the plantation court including the middle courtyard, Which makes it more emerging and nature-oriented rather than confined spaces. Unfolding the architecture to spill out space and connecting it with various activities like a zen seating cabana, swimming pool and various plantation courts adds moral to the wholesome concept.

Sometimes you get lucky where the client’s vibes match with your vision or thinking. And we adhered to the brief in which he wanted a tailor-made architecture to cut off from the urban clutter and experience absolute solitude takes back to nature.

There were a few challenges to conclude the project to full fill our as well as the client’s ambitions and visions. The first challenge was to make it structurally well detailed as there is a fusion of structural elements having piles as a foundation, brick walls, beams, and steel structure. With the careful interior detailing and color palette we have managed to camouflage it in a single entity. The structure consultant and their involvement throughout the process made it easier for us. Another challenge was to maintain the open-close and solidity-porosity ratio between spaces, which we have carefully managed by connecting all the activity diagrams to inside-outside courtyards. Also the careful placement and execution of some old elements in the interior and refurbishing it by giving a simple touch of color and polish to make it look fresh. For example, the old Venetian style windows refurbished in turquoise polishing and using it as an element in the courtyard, old deck woods used as entire ceiling of the bedroom, some locally collected cloth pieces as art work and the balusters found in dust heap used as backdrop panel of a bed. The adaptive reuse has been achieved by contemplating all the details and applying them to the perfect place. And so we in our practice takes all the challenges and generate a careful thought process to make it exemplary.

Fact file

Project name: Stamping Ground Courts

Design firm: Squelette Design, Ahmedabad

Area (in sq ft): Site Area- 65,000 Sq Feet, Built Up Area- 4000 Sq Feet

Location: Ahmedabad

Principal architects: Saumil Patel, Prashant Trivedi

Design team: Ar.Jay Suthar, Tanushree Dwivedi, Jay Sompura

Client: Mr. Govind Choksi

Structure Designer. Setu Infrastructure (Structure + MEPF Consultant)

Photography: PHX India

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