The House in the Woods
Raindrops trailing down windows, dappled reflections of sunlight bouncing off panes and the gentle breeze running through the spaces; The Mango House by Studio PKA weaves nature into its design landscape. By Aarti Mohan
Sailing in a ferry far from the madding crowds of Mumbai, towards the quaint coastal town of Alibaug; the rattle and hum of the city are silenced. A prelude to the experience; The Mango House, is set in motion on arrival – a walk down the sunlit pier and a short drive from the port along a long silent dirt road under a canopy of lush green trees.
As one steps through the gates, it takes a moment to look past the trees and find the house sitting almost inconspicuously between them. The age-old inhabitants of the site – the mango trees – govern the simple form of the house. As a direct response to the resolute and intricate network of roots, careful attention was paid to leave them unharmed and unhampered. The footprint furthermore makes them an active part of the design by enabling them to act as natural shaded extensions of the house.
Rising up to acknowledge the trees and to compensate for the narrow site, the volume opens up to an expansive sloping Mangalore tiled roof. The design manages to ostensibly hide this feature and create the impression of a modern contemporary flat covering. Achieved by orienting the gradual slope of the roof towards the entrance and the backyard – effectively rendering it invisible from ground level – the subtle gradient thus can only be experienced from within the abode.
At two storeys high, the house allows the branches of the trees to spill over onto the deck, overlooking the pool. Multiple large glass fenestrations line the exposed brick walls, casting reflections of the world outside – flooding the interiors with daylight and shadow trails, allowing the experience to percolate within. The windows along with the four expansive entrances along the north-south and east-west axes blur the lines between the inside and the outside.
The unwavering desire to allow the house to blend in and become one with the land is accentuated by the earthy tones of exposed brick and concrete that complement the verdant landscape around it; it is an experience which is carried forward into the abode.
“The journey through the different spaces is marked by a defined sense of transition between them – It could be as subtle as the sound of footsteps, on the gravel, following the user till the threshold, or even the change in warm hues of the exposed bricks, in the communal spaces, to white plastered brickwork, in the private spaces. Brick, Concrete, Metal, Stone, Terracotta and Wood – A medley of natural materials come together to form a whole. The use of stark, raw and earthy materials entices the user and beckons them to engage with the house – through the myriad sights, sounds, and textures that coalesce to form memories; a feeling of home,” says the principal architect Puran Kumar from Studio PKA.
While inside, eyes are drawn to a suspended steel staircase that seems like a conversation between the two levels of the house. Double heighted spaces not only act as interesting vantage points but also ensure ventilation across the axes. The semi-private and private spaces rise up to the second level and are reserved for the family of four. Spaces remain interwoven with the lower level yet become characteristic to each of the resident’s individual sensibilities and passions.
The design and articulation of spaces take into account the privacy of the inhabitants. The lower level acts as an intimate yet informal zone where one could wander finding places for casual conversations or find their own little corner to lean back – against the embrace of the cold brick wall and sit reading a book. A strong connection of the dining with the kitchen and it’s visual connect with the pool deck gives rise to a dynamism that allows each space to spill out into the other – unhindered and welcoming. Every space becomes a stage for new memories to play out.
Alluding to the vernacular, a rich sense of culture and tradition is ever-present – The Mango House helps the city-dwelling family to connect with nature by being organic in both spirit and content. A Space where design meets life – bridging the growing gap between us and the natural environment – not interfering with the course of nature, but rather inviting it in as an extension to the house. The design speaks of modest desires and smart aesthetic appeal, all the while serving as a place to call ‘home’, of a space to come back to, where nature welcomes the inhabitants with open arms, and both of them co-exist.
Project name: The Mango House
Architect’s Firm: Studio PKA
Principal Architect: Puran Kumar
Project Team: Nidhi Kanoi, Sonali Nimbalkar
Completion Year: 2015
Gross Built Area (square foot): 6000 Sq. Ft.
Photographer’s website: www.panoramas.in