Natural virtue

Natural virtue

Sagar Shetty of Livingform Architects worked in Europe for a few years and absorbed international architectural idioms. But when he designed this striking home in one of Bangalore’s many gated communities, his aim was to blend the city’s history with its future vision. He wanted to showcase the city’s biggest blessing—its clement weather and green topography—as intrinsic to its living spaces.

Click here to view a slideshow of architect Sagar Shetty’s Bangalore bungalow, built to take advantage of the city’s pleasant climate and natural beauty

The house, designed for client Raymond Shaw, reminds us of how most Bangaloreans once lived: in homes that had flowering gardens, fruit trees, a courtyard or a veranda. Only the interpretation of the Bangalore bungalow is the twist in the tale here. Indoor spaces become one with the rain, sunlight and breeze, courtesy the clever use of windows and other ventilation ideas, and an innovative outer form. “If you take advantage of local materials and the weather, you already have two things sorted out. The idea should be to build with minimal disturbance to the geography," says Shetty.

Organic spaces

The first impression emanating from the home is of planes and levels, surfaces crafted out of different materials and green pockets. The facade is inward looking, not giving away much, but there are many eye-catching elements, such as an ochre, curved wall on the first floor and an areca wood strip screen.

The gate opens to a space that serves as a garage but is more like a multifunctional lung space. An ingeniously designed concrete table and chair, a smattering of pebbles and a small outhouse create an alfresco courtyard-like flavour.

The house defies conventionally watertight compartmentalization of living spaces. Instead, it “docks" the kitchen to the main house in a way that it is a part of the whole and, yet, an individual entity.

The kitchen is a clean-lined room with a concrete island, prefabricated units and oxygenated energy—thanks to its connection to the courtyard, which has a flowering tree at its centre, and then to the garden. On the other side, it melds seamlessly into the dining area, with vitrified, terracotta-tinted flooring giving way to rugged cuddapah in recognition of the shifting function.

A staircase spirals out of a black-oxide base that can hold candles or lanterns, drinks or even extra guests, or just serve as a place where someone can sit down to tie shoelaces.

On the same level, there is a secluded bedroom for a senior member of the family, which usually remains out of bounds for visitors. Shetty’s cross-cultural perspective translates into a home both modern and traditional in the best possible sense, proving that though the vision behind a design can be global, its heart must tell a local story.

Breezing through naturally

When the doors and windows of the ground floor area are open, the line between nature’s many impromptu performances and the home’s inner spaces blurs. Shetty’s favourite moment is when it rains and the house frames the drama and almost becomes a part of it. “Also, the house transforms itself into a light box at night—light spilling from all the openings, bringing the various parts and volumes alive and afloat," he says.

Day or night, it is an oxygen-charged atmosphere. “The ventilation in the house works through two air shafts that create a natural air current by convection. Outside the house, the breeze is funnelled in through the main house and the green vertical wall. Rainwater harvesting and recharging pits harness the rainwater," says Shetty. Going green is obviously not a cosmetic choice in this home.

Windows and doors have meshes, grills and glass, occasionally fixed with blinds that can filter light or be moved out of the way when the residents want to bring the garden in.

A rooftop garden above the kitchen and another terrace, with a staircase boasting woven wooden treads, provide a panoramic view of the horizon.

Linking more worlds

The house doesn’t just marry outdoor and indoor, nature and architecture; an interplay of tradition and whimsy, a sense of history and progressive vision, are both evident.

Though the finishes and materials used have an industrial quality (the railings, structural beams and staircases are in metal), the inherent organic warmth is unmistakable. Composite RCC (reinforced cement concrete) and exposed structural beams create the bones of the building. Concrete block walls are plastered on both sides. But its heart is in home-grown materials: cuddapah and kota stone along with areca wood strips. Yet the powder room boasts a very contemporary, quirky wall of stacked mint-green glass.

The upper level offers a breathtaking moment of drama when you climb the staircase and step on to a glass sheet inset in the floor. It is toughened glass, of course, but still a cheeky touch.

As Shetty says, “Today, aspirational values are connected with money but the best need not be always expensive."


Location: Hennur, Bangalore

Plot area: 7,000 sq. ft

Built-up area: 4,200 sq. ft

Design team: Livingform Architects [Sagar Shetty, Parikshit, Mousumi Biswas, Aloma De Souza, Upal Basu, De Neeff Quentin and Fujisaki Masato (landscape concept)]

Landscape inputs: Vagish N.

Landscape and stone work: Devaraj

Structural consultant: Cruthi Consultants

Civil contractor: Pruthvi Associates

Electrical and plumbing consultant: IAES, Bangalore

Electrical contractor: GG Electricals, Bangalore

Cost of construction: Rs75 lakh

Completed: February 2008

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