Text description provided by the architects. The project is about exploring this notion of joint family culture in the changing urban scenario. The site is a 400sqm with a steep drop of 2.5 meters from northeast to the southwest. It is flanked by roads on the north and western edges. An existing three bedroom house built by the client in the early eighties negotiated this sloped terrain. The brief was to use this structure and add a three bedroom unit on it for his son’s family.
Design for the stacked house examines these parameters in the context of two families spread over three generations co-existing while retaining their personal identities. The idea was to reflect the additive nature of the program, to look at the house as an open ended amalgamation rather than a finite object. The process involved reworking the existing floors to accommodate new program and look at the emerging logic at lower levels to inform the designing of the new unit.
The existing house sits in the middle of the site bound by open space on all sides. This open space served as an effective buffer against the busy corner where one of the edges is defined by a school and a temple. The house establishes a strong relationship with the outdoor spaces (unbuilt spaces) in the context of tight urban conditions. The use of layers helps in establishing varying degrees of transparency and dissolving boundaries between in and outside. Being connected to the neighborhood through this brings in a sense of security while maintaining privacy.
Flexibility is carefully considered to enable different possibilities of usage over time. This is exhibited in the open-ended use of one of the rooms in lower as well as upper level units, integration of indoor and outdoor spaces or the open plan with minimum use of internal masonry partitions especially in the upper unit allows multiple possibilities of usage at a later date.
The existing building posed a challenge as it was load bearing structure. And few of the internal walls had to be removed while taking into consideration the weight of the gardens above. A simple system of Columns and beams has been strategically introduced to support this idea. The inverted beams strengthened the existing slabs while accommodating the weight and depth of the lawn above. The cantilever of 4.5M in the southeastern corner provides the wooden deck at the first level ample shade and also adds to the expression of stacking.
The idea of stacking and labyrinth as expression of private realm is supported with the use of materials and detail. Glass skylights, ferroconcrete and glass bottle panels, conical skylight cum ventilation device, the wooden screens and pergolas explores the medium of light as a tactile material lending character to each of the spaces. Passive strategies like rain water harvesting, solar water heating, terrace gardens along with efficient planning and conscious use of low energy materials and renewable materials like timber renders this project a environmentally sensitive attempt. The material palette apart from locally available material like natural stone, wood glass and steel explores unconventional technologies like oxide flooring tiles, earth plastered walls, ferroconcrete and precast technologies. The expression stems out of a will to create spaces which are intimate, warm and memorable while accommodating the sensibilities of changing life styles.