The bungalow once defined Bangalore’s unhurried love for life with its gardens, sloping roofs, deep verandas and gracious central halls with double-height ceilings.
While renovating some of these old structures in and around the city, architect Ramu Katakam was struck by the possibility of adding a contemporary twist.
This house on Bangalore’s Dodballapur Road, he says, “is a kind of pun on the idea of a large, old bungalow”. Part nostalgia, part whimsy, the design for Casa Laburnam, so named because of the laburnum trees crowding the road to Dodballapur, is certainly different.
The veranda and the garden, that routinely were at the front of the colonial bungalow, are now at the back. The garden hugs not just the back of the house, but wraps around the sides as well. There is also a small pocket of green in front.
One advantage of this is that the double-height hall has direct visual access to the garden on two sides and lets in plenty of light. The bedrooms have been relocated and all the rooms on the ground floor have views of the garden.
Also on the ground floor are two bedrooms with attached baths, a kitchen and a utility area. Katakam has managed to equip the utility area with a store, linen closet and maid’s room. The house also has a rainwater harvesting system and a swimming pool.
Katakam’s forte is in imbuing character and quirkiness to surfaces that would have gone unnoticed but for their detailing. A stone ball seems to roll down a slope alongside the façade. The entrance has a pergola of slim rods that throw interesting patterns of light and shade on the yellow walls. Textured stone stairs, sculpted stone orbs and squares add to the element of whimsy.
Inside the hall, the ceiling stays true to the external contours, and tall, French windows bring in light and air, and picture-postcard views of the garden. Katakam plays with a range of varied materials that contrast and complement each other, such as granite, slate, marble and vitrified tiles.
A simple staircase leads to the first floor, which has a studio, a spacious terrace and a bathroom. In emphasizing the visual access to sky and earth, Katakam emphasizes his preoccupation with how an ostensibly empty space can become a meaningful one when designed without needless ornamentation.
The dominant feature of the sprawling 3,200 sq. ft house is its ability to stay within convention without being bound by it. For a house of such scale, it is neither intimidating, nor impersonal.
Location: Dodballapur Road, Bangalore
Area: 3,200 sq. ft
Principal architect: Ramu Katakam
Duration: 12 months
Project cost: Rs56 lakh approx.
1. The architect’s predilection for different materials and shapes is evident even at the entrance.
3. Angles and planes, and different ways of treating similar surfaces.
4. The hall opens out on to a veranda and has a view of the garden on two sides. The flooring is in Oman marble.
5. The veranda at the back is an integral element of the colonial bungalow.
Photographs: Claire Arni
Text: Reema Moudgil
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