Nel Sedone / EarthStudio

© Courtesy of

Architects: EarthStudio
Location: Three and Half Mile, Upper Shillong, Meghalaya,
Design Architect: Gerald Pde
Site Supervision: Gerald Pde/ Atelier A+ Architects and Designers
Client: Habari Warjri
Project Area: 8,500 sq ft
Project Estimate: 20 Lakh Rupees ($45,000)
Project Year: 2007-2008
Photographs: Courtesy of EarthStudio

original house

Site Location-Nel Sedone is located in a locality of Upper Shillong which is about three kilometers from the center of Shillong’s business district. Upper Shillong which still maintains its original forest landscape as opposed to the rest of Shillong as most of the land belongs to the Forest Department of the Government of India. It is a unique intervention that floats above its more typical concrete and brick neighbors. The view from the site is of pine trees and a scenic panorama of Shillong town towards the east and the Umiam lake towards the north.

Space Layout-The original house was L-shaped and this plan was maintained to preserve the house’s original integrity. The entrance of the house is from the studio which leads into the open loft consisting of living, bar, dining and kitchen areas. These spaces are all arranged in one arm of the L-shape plan.

floor plan

A door from the living room leads on to the more private sections of the house which includes the master bedroom and bathroom, the guest bedroom and bathroom and the utility space. These private living areas are arranged in the other arm of the L-shape plan. Originally external verandahs which is a typical Assam-type typology, wraps the house an all sides. However in this renovation, the external verandah was broken up to accommodate the master bedroom, the bar and the maid’s room. The verandah has now been articulated to a kitchen verandah, and a verandah around the living and the bedroom areas.

© Courtesy of EarthStudio

The requirements for the project:

  • One master bedroom with attached toilet
  • One guest bedroom with common guest toilet
  • One studio
  • One Living, Kitchen and Dining
  • One Maid’s room with External Toilet
  • One Utility Room

Clients Brief – Nel Sedone was acquired by Habari Warjri and Gerald Pde while they were in New York. Their decision to renovate was based on the requirements to accommodate the house and to use this as a showcase for environmental design in single family residential projects. The primary objective of this project was to make it ecologically friendly while meeting the project’s requirements. Emphasis for the project was to re-use as much existing materials as possible, recycle any waste generated onsite, improve the indoor environmental quality and save energy.

© Courtesy of EarthStudio

Materials Used

The intent for this project was to use recycled and local materials as much as possible. Materials used for this project include a combination of wood, brick, stone, glass and metal. Recycled materials from the existing structure such as wood, stone and brick was utilized as much as possible to reduce the necessity of harvesting new materials.

Locally available wood such as English Pine, Poma, Tita-champa and Teak were used for various wooden applications in the project. A locally available Cherapunjee stone was used as interior and exterior stone cladding and also the project’s external boundary wall.

Concept-Environmental sustainability was an important facet of this project and efforts were made to apply environmental design principles conducive to the project. These concepts include:

environmental section

Rainwater Harvesting: Shillong receives a large amount of rainfall yearly however rainwater is not actively used in Shillong except for minimal washing. This project attempts to use rainwater actively by offsetting washing, cleaning and toilet flushing demands. Rainwater gutters line the roof channeling the rain water into an underground tank where it is pumped into a rainwater overhead tank for toilet flushing and irrigation.

Solar Hot Water: A solar hot water system made of flat-plate collectors is installed on the roof which preheats water before it is supplied to hot water geysers in the house. This offsets a significant amount of heating energy required for washing and bathing. Solar hot water is also used directly in the kitchen sink to supply warm water for washing.

© Courtesy of EarthStudio

Daylighting: One of the primary objectives of the house is to use daylight as much as possible for visual comfort and energy savings. The roof-form which on one hand sits on the existing structure was modified to allow daylight penetration over the perimeter verandahs into the interior spaces. The roof-form that then arrived was inherent to the design to allow for daylight given the restrictions on-site.

Natural Ventilation: Shillong’s climate is very conducive for natural ventilation which is used to achieve thermal comfort in a building. In this project, natural ventilation is driven by wind-pressure and by stack ventilation where warm air is exhausted from the higher clerestory windows. IN winter when the clearstory windows are shut, stratification of warm air due to solar and internal gains offset heat loss from the upper roof and window area keeping the space warm.

© Courtesy of EarthStudio

Envelope Performance: To minimize heat loss especially during the cold winter months, the entire roof of the house was insulated using fiber-wool insulation sandwiched between two layers of board. Corrugated sheets were then used as the rain layer over the insulation layers. Building insulation is not commonly used in Shillong and the intention of the project is to investigate the benefits of roof insulation. While interior temperature data is yet to be taken, the temperature conditions in the house are comfortable and additional heating is not required. In addition double paned glass also reduces heat loss through the external glazing due to the air space trapped between the two layers of glass.

Reuse/Recycling: An effort was made to reuse as much material from the old structure as was possible. Old wooden rafters were re-used to provide a backing for the new wooden floors. All reusable brick was utilized in walls or for soling. The entire steel structure of the house was preserved in the design. Originally the steel columns where hidden in concrete plaster and the project tried to expose the texture of the original steel as much as possible making it an architectural feature.

Cite: "Nel Sedone / EarthStudio" 05 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=62844>