housTOGETHER By Plan Loci

  • Project Name :housTOGETHER
  • Client Name:Kumars
  • Location :Punjabi Bagh , New Delhi
  • Principal Architect(s) :Gauri S Gandhi and Vikas Gandhi
  • Year Built :2022

A joint family is an extended family arrangement prevalent throughout India, consisting of many generations living in the same household, all bound by the common relationship. housTOGETHER is an endeavour to design a home for a set of parents with their two married sons and their children. The family works together and stays together.

The site in this context is a rectangular residential plot in the yester years Refugees colony of Delhi, now a posh address. The plot opens up towards the front where we have the main access road. A narrower service lane exists towards the rear providing another source for light and ventilation while adjoining houses block the other two sides.

The design brief explores the nuances of joint families living under one roof while balancing the restrictions imposed by the urban bye of laws of the vastly populated city of Delhi on a pricey piece of land. Design intentions focus on providing each family within the joint family a sense of privacy and individuality while maintaining a sense of oneness and togetherness.

Taking cue from a traditional Indian court house, functions are arranged around a central sky lit open space which is used as a dining area, an activity which the whole joint family does together every day. A spacious kitchen and a cave like powder room is discreetly placed next to this space providing the necessary functional connections. Individually, the families are distributed horizontally across three floors to provide them their own private spaces to live as well as entertain. A network of circulation comprising corridors, bridges, stairs and a glass lift creates a bright central space allowing vertical interaction, a constant sense of being together and to be available for each other. The central space is accentuated with textured granite walls next to staircase and crystal lights hanging from the top ceiling providing connected lighting across all floors. The lift designed with steel columns and tinted glass inserts reflects light and tends to disappear. The staircase is planned in an L shape with its form broken by the colour of the stone with one leg black and the other white. The bridges are clad in wood and shift from floors providing an organic sense of movement. The innermost sanctum of the house open up to the top with a skylight, pouring in natural light and providing a constant connection to the sky.

In addition the vertical connections, transparent connections are created from the centre of the house towards the front of the plot exploring openness in the façade. Family lounges and living room spaces on all floors form intermediate lively spaces between the internal court and the outdoors. One can further step out into the extended semi covered balconies. These senses of connections amidst private spaces define the design of the house.

The front side of house facing the main access road has an undesirable view of shops in one half while it opens up towards a perpendicular road and a lovely park on the other half. Hence the view on one of side a tad shorter while on the other side is expansive. The house design acknowledges these constraints and is planned to be opaque in the direction of the shops while being transparent and interactive towards the direction of the park. Privacy is achieved from the front by providing a stoic rough natural stone façade towards the edges. The views from the bedrooms open up towards the park by providing corner windows which are recessed and well protected. These attach to balconies which project out and provide the opportunity to open up on all floor levels. The façade of the house recedes inwards providing a sense of warmth and solitude. The outer frame insets a smaller frame which extrudes out, a metaphor for a family. To complete the composition, a combination of natural stone, perforated aluminium and white coloured microcrete is used as a maintenance free facade. The name of the house (luxmi nivas) is written in Hindi respecting the Indian traditions by using the local language. This sits quietly on a dash of colour at the front amidst plants at a pedestrian level.

As this is a north facing plot, large opening are provided towards the front to connect with the outdoors and create a sense of openness without worrying about heat gain. Delhi bye laws mandate the use of the ground for only parking and thus is designed to cater to parking of cars for the whole family. As one enters through the gates, dynamic black and white stone steps allow them to directly approach the living spaces starting on the first floor. These steps are carved out into a tall curved space retreating deeply into the front creating a strong transition and a sense of detachment from the road. It’s a semi open vestibule which softly leads you into a house of warmth, of respecting relations.

The temple is provided a special place in the house to receive the first rays of the rising sun. It is placed in the balcony on the ground floor and is not part of the interiors. The walk to the temple is reminiscent of a journey that one typically takes to pay respect to the gods in the hindu traditions. As the ground is taken away to park cars, a terrace garden is designed on the top along with recreation and wellness spaces on the top for all the family member to come together and enjoy. Plenty of sunlight creates a green haven with lawns and a variety of shrubs which create a green perimeter. The terrace garden also brings in the much needed respite from heat gain from the roof. The architecture finishes compose of non-colours with punched patterns to create light and shadow play while textured stone along with wood finishes add vibrancy and warmth through the house. The patterns itself are inspired by the subtle curves in the form of the house. The family itself is in the business connected to the great Indian weddings and love a little bit of glitz and drama. The architecture and interiors embraces these characteristics and intersperse in into a modern house.

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