Light touches

Light touches

Shopping for an architect was never part of the Joshis’ plan when they decided to build a house. But despite the modest budget and various other concerns, this story has a happy ending, thanks to architects Varsha and Deepak Guggari of Varsha and Deepak Guggari Associates (VDGA).

It was not a chance meeting that brought the client and architects together. The Guggaris’ son goes to a crèche run by the Joshis. “During one of our many interactions, they told us about their plan to add a floor to their house. In fact, all they wanted at first were some suggestions," says Deepak. That’s where it all began.

Architecture, the Guggaris believe, is a combination of factors such as climate, environment, structure and space. The Guggaris had visited the Joshi home quite frequently, and were aware of the potential of the site. But the clients were not easily convinced. Only after the plan was drawn up and they were assured that the costs would stay within budget, did the Joshis give the architects the green signal.

The brief was simple: They wanted a separate house on the first floor, since the crèche occupies the ground floor. The two floors were to be distinct units, neither of which would intrude on the other.

“The existing structure was one of the major constraints," explains Deepak.

The architects tackled the issue of privacy by adding a 3ft-wide, straight flight staircase bay to the existing structure. This permitted independent access to the new unit. A 5ft-wide balcony, which was added to the upper floor, serves as an extension to the living room.

The “stick to the budget at all cost" brief would have deterred most architects throughout the duration of the project. But VGDA believes that curtailing costs need not be a handicap in producing a good design. What they eventually came up with involved a free and abundantly available resource—sunlight.

This became a powerful design feature, and transforms the space as the day wears on. “We believe that interior design works in conjunction with architecture," says Deepak. “Therefore, the thought of using the available light as an element came to mind while we were doing the architectural design itself."

The main features of the Joshi residence are the large windows with wooden louvres and the 12 skylights. The architects incorporated louvres in the northern part of the house as it does not afford a great view of the outdoors, and scattered skylights through the rest of the area. Both these elements complement each other.

To cool the house, the architects have used a turbo-ventilator, normally used in industrial settings. “The turbo-ventilator is a wonderful thing. It runs by itself. Hot air forces the fans to move and the room is cooled by the fresh air that comes in," say the Guggaris.

The 1,250 sq. ft space has an open, uncluttered layout. There are only four private rooms: the master bedroom, the daughter’s bedroom and the attached bathrooms. The rest of the space—the living area, a seating corner, the kitchen and the dining—is one big entity.

There is minimal use of colour and material. All the walls are finished with a mixture of plater of Paris and putty. The textured surface accentuates the play of light on it through the day.

The monotony of a predominantly white colour scheme is broken by three blood-red doors (two bedrooms and the main entrance). The staircase bay and the floor beneath the skylights have been done in rough Kota stone, the rest of the house has polished Kota.

A lot of the Joshis’ old furniture was buffed up with melamine. Only the kitchen unit and the Indian seating corner are new additions. Besides the basic task-lights for the night, there is not much emphasis on the lighting design as there is absolutely no need for artificial lights until late evening.

The house almost charts the time of day and the changing seasons through the play of light and shadow on the walls. It is a space that adapts and reinvents itself.

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