Tara House / Studio Mumbai

© Helene Binet

Architects: Studio Mumbai
Location: Kashid, Maharashtra,
Principal Architect: Bijoy Jain
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: Helene Binet & Studio Mumbai

floor plan

Surrounded by mountains, forests, and the waters of the Arabian Sea, the house is configured around a tropical garden filled with Plumeria, ferns, grasses, bamboo and jasmine. Under the wood framed roof, rooms are loosely arranged around the garden, weaving routes between them through louvred hallways and verandahs. Vertical wooden slats form a protective enclosure, obscuring and revealing views of the surrounding landscape. Sunlight filters through these screens, creating patters of light and shadow on the inner surfaces of the building, made up of , wood, and burnished plaster.

© Studio Mumbai

Beneath the courtyard lies a secret room filled with water from a subterranean aquifer. Light diminishes as one descends the stairs through a stone corridor, intensifying a sense of passage into the earth. The pool has a comforting silence, as water enters the building without ripples or sound. The subterranean room is a refuge from the hot Indian sun, piercing the ground through circular air holes casting shafts of light across the stone walls into water. Inside the stone-lined cavity, ocean sounds reverberate from above and water fluctuates freely, responsive to the seasons and tides. When it rains, water from the roof of the house percolates into the well, recharging the aquifer. The artesian well provides water for the house and gardens through the year.

© Studio Mumbai
Cite: "Tara House / Studio Mumbai" 03 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=62621>
  • http://www.pedrokok.com.br Pedro Kok

    Lovely images from Hélène Binet.

  • K

    Simple AWSOME!
    Perfect balance between the materials and the manner in which they have been photographed.

  • b

    wow. beautiful.

  • Y

    good to see projects from my fav architect.. :)

  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    Suggestion was that the Indian house… http://www.archdaily.com/51722/house-42-designq/#comment-118285 was the best that the sub-continent could achieve… I am glad to say I could not believe this and Studio Mumbai proves conclusively otherwise
    Invention and place making of the highest calibre, quality of materials and build first class. This and http://www.archdaily.com/62136/palmyra-house-studio-mumbai/#comment-142519 are truly magical spaces that tap into India’s ethereal and mysterious beliefs and traditions. These two examples do not just sit on their locations they grow from the depths of the Indian soil… magical

  • http://www.tectonicus.com Ben L

    Probably the finest courtyard house I have ever seen.

    Another great project from SMA, but I know there is more where these came from.

  • madlib

    Another really beautiful project from Studio Mumbai. Its great to see real quality and thoughtful detail is finally emerging from modern Indian work

  • http://twitter.com/fazai38/status/15405253504 Joshua Choo

    I want a house like Tara House / Studio Mumbai http://bit.ly/a8AEue via ArchDaily

  • KentaSendai

    It’s so cool! I wanna be there.

  • http://www.joseforjazarquitectos.com Jorge C.

    Stunning! From the choice of materials to the design. The second project i see from Studio Mumbai and both are Perfect.

    • lekesh

      Great work..Sensitive..Grt inspiration from of Carlo scarpa/Bawa/Barragan/zumthor..Whatever..this is original work..Very sensitive to location,tradition…Keep the good work..Studio mumbai

  • alex

    this is a great project. anyone have an idea on how that section was created? is that just graphite on mylar?

    • http://www.ziqquratz.com Ziqquratz

      It seems section created with more than one software.. CAD output of Elevation / Section, and edited with photoshop.
      The idea is important than the software most of the time…

    • Alejandra

      I agree with the previous reply that the section was done with a combination of Cad & Photoshop. However I also believe hand rendering was involved to produce the graphite effect of the ground cut-through & certain areas, such as the stairs. In addition the plantings appear to be photographic imnages adjusted in scale & inserted into the drawing.

    • alex

      thanks for the replies. agreed, the greatness of this project goes beyond the graphic representations of it.. I was just curious as it looks like some sort of hybrid computer/analog drawing.

  • http://www.amonle.com amonle

    Aren’t these guys just great!

  • Pingback: Tara House:园中有园 » Plus-G 生活加点绿

  • Pingback: Tara House:林中房 房中园 园下水 » Plus-G 生活加点绿

  • Efusha

    i relly like it it’s nice work!

  • http://31416t.blogspot.com Priscilla

    Beautiful use of materials! Nice work!

  • http://thearchitectureofarchitectures.blogspot.com/ Graham McKay

    Nice enough, I guess. The text says all the right things “Surrounded by mountains, forests, and the waters of the Arabian Sea, the house is configured around a tropical garden filled with Plumeria, ferns, grasses, bamboo and jasmine.” What’s not to like? Sorry to ask this difficult question, but shouldn’t we just admit that “architecture” is only for rich people with a nice bit of land? Does “architecture” have anything at all to offer poor people? Since many of the visitors to this site seem to be students, I think they should be honest with themselves and admit that all they really want to do is build houses for rich people and be paid a lot of money for it. If they think that’s architecture, then good luck to them.

    • Kit

      That’s an incredibly negative view Graham. Yes, people with money can buy nice sites, but if you take some time to peruse this blog, you’ll find many examples of beautiful non-profit work and even low-budget projects. There are different solutions to different budgets, sites, situations and uses, but if thought and care are taken it’s always architecture.

      • Graham McKay

        I don’t think it’s that negative Kit. I actually like buildings. I think the problem lies with our definition of architectural beauty. A quick look at the history of architecture and you’ll see that it’s not one of modest tombs, unimposing palaces, functional places of worship, or housing for poor people. Having a unique or beautiful site ($$$) or throwing a lot of money at a building (+$$$) might not guarantee a beautiful building but it certainly doesn’t work against it. My point of view is that what’s conventionally called architectural beauty is nothing more than articulating the possession of money and property – as we have here, with this house. If its owners have the time to take pleasure in the play of light on their subterranean aquifer, then I don’t think they’re worrying where their next meal is coming from.

    • Jorge C,

      So you’re married to your lovely wife and you don’t like to look at Megan Fox (choose you own)…..Hmm! But you will still be married to her if you look at ……..
      There is nothing wrong in recognizing beauty when you see it. It has nothing to do with being made for the rich.

    • Howard G

      Graham you TOTALLY miss the point.

      This house as are all Studio Mumbai’s projects are NOT about money! It is about far more,yet paradoxically far less. It’s about integrity, culture, belonging, creation, holistic ideals, superb relevant construction, the crew who created this and above all the value of true Indian architecture. If you understood anything about Bijoy’s crew and their relationship you would post very differently.

      Until you know the price, and I have a pretty good idea of it, and context then you would be best to learn more about why this such an extraordinarily beautiful, valuable practice.

      • http://www.tectonicus.com Ben L

        Your absolutely Spot on Howard.

        Graham; from what I witnessed, the main concerns was the feel, function, and quality of the space. Clients many times asked for huge glamorous spaces, all surfaces clad in the most expensive materials, but what they got was something far more honest, comfortable, and built to last generations, that would never fall into the trends of the time.

        If one wanted to show off money in architecture, it would look more like the trappings of Dubai, not a relatively small courtyard house painstakingly made my skilled craftsmen.

      • Graham McKay

        Au contraire Ben!

        “Painstakingly made by skilled craftsmen!” you say. You talk of buildings like they are expensive Swiss watches! And as if that is a good thing! There are many ways you can cram the display of money into a building. Some are more subtle than others. Amusingly, I live in Dubai. I daresay I could pick up a set of gold bathtaps for less than the price of the painstaking efforts of a bunch of skilled craftsmen.

      • http://www.tectonicus.com Ben L


        Yes, there is a big divide of wages in India, but this is how it works, and the more people you employ and train, the more positive your imprint into society is. The client could have just bought some fancy cars for the same money, and would not have done any good to anyone but the salesperson.

        The building of this particular house probably had a full-time construction crew of at least 40 craftsmen. The construction managers are very highly skilled carpenters, and masons from all around India. On the job site they slowly refine their skills, train new people the trade, and continue perfecting the centuries old local building traditions.

        If you look at the benefits of having a 2 or 3 year full-time construction site, that employs and trains so many people, you learn to see what a benefit and service a project like this is to the local community. The local trades people refine their skills without the rush of a tight budget or schedule, they are able to send their children to school on the decent wages, and the local architecture and details can live on for another 200 or so years (as long as the building stands).

        With that said, I would like to see SMA do some public projects, I think they could have a huge impact in that area.


      • Howard G

        Graham… I’m not sure where your scepticism or seeming antagonism comes from. Perhaps I mistake it for resentment, possibly a jaded westerner not believing better is possible without money being the solution.

        Ben has so clearly said the truth. And nowhere does he implicate or equate “painstakingly made my skilled craftsmen” with expensive. That appears to be your delusion, possibly assumption.

        It’s worth explaining more of Studio Mumbai’s ethos and methods. The practice collaborates with a very long-term associated crew of artisans because of integrity, trust, ability and extraordinary abilities on both sides. Both are dedicated to each other’s values. I understand projects are finished when they are finished, yet within reasonable time frames. It’s also about the trust the clients have in the Studio and in Bijoy Jain’s vision.

        As an indication of the very high respect and esteem in which Studio Mumbai is held take a look at their house shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; remember to understand their criteria. Some could dismiss it as simply a shell of a beach shack… look carefully at the incredible workmanship, understand the location, conditions, environment and needs of the owners. Then appreciate the design, spaces and affect.

        I’m not a rabid blindsided ‘fanboy’ of the studio per se. But my son and I will be commissioning Bijoy to create a house for us when we move to India early next year. We are not super rich and living in Australia we could have a very comfortable life. But the beauty of their designs, context and understanding of what life is about is so overwhelmingly evident. It is so enriching and fulfilling to simply appreciate the structures they create. Full of joy and serenity.

        I hope you can see and enjoy it. Thanks for your comments Graham… & Ben.

      • Graham McKay

        Ben, Howard,

        Thanks – I’ve learned a lot from your comments. I may be a little bit jaded as I’d long since given up being interested in the branding and career trajectories of individual architects or practices. A shame really, as I never knew anything about how the labour and construction fitted into the bigger picture. It seems like a very good thing, and far more important than “the play of light on the aquifer” that I keep going on about. I also like how the intention is to create something that successive generations of a family might live in. I doubt an individual house anywhere can reverse the global trend towards dehumanising the places where people live so they become nothing more than instruments for speculative investment, but I appreciate what SM are doing in this respect. I wish them well. If they can replicate this approach and bring the same qualities to an inner city mass housing project then they will have my lasting admiration. Thanks again, and Howard good luck with your future house.


  • http://twitter.com/xirclebox/status/15436742683 xirclebox

    this house is fly –> Tara House / Studio Mumbai http://bit.ly/a8AEue /cc @feedly

  • shetu

    Its a great project, no doubt. Great going Studio Mumbai.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholaspatten/status/15481772241 Nicholas Patten
  • Ricardo S.

    Im’ amazed. Studio Mumbai really understands what this is all about. My sincerest congratulations.

  • Pingback: Madhumati: in Search of the Source of Hope | The Colorful Times

  • The Big Black & White Zebra

    Congrats all round… Studio Mumbai, Graham, Howard and Ben
    Good posts…

  • LooLoo

    This is so nice. I love everything about it – so inspiring.

  • Pingback: AD Interviews: Bijoy Jain, Studio Mumbai | Indoor Digital Billboards

  • Pingback: Bijoy Jain, Studio Mumbai | DhakaDesigners