The relentlessly varying weather of the city of Ahmedabad exemplifies the typical tropical climate of extremes: short winters, wet humid monsoons and long dry scorching summers. Though less prevalent today, in our childhood we slept outdoors when the cool night breezes came as a reliever. We would tuck ourselves under a machardani, a simple net held up by four intersecting bamboo poles, locked between the legs of our charpouy cot. This would become our private domain, a safe haven protecting from insects, harsh light and parents’ eyes. When the design brief for a weekend house in the fringes of the city asked for a place that is open to the wilderness of nature yet offers all creature comforts, it brought back memories of the net and the shelter it offered. The house was visualized as a clearing amidst the forest. A 12mx12m column less space is sheltered by a single monolithic 90 ton concrete slab suspended by an elaborate steel framework which becomes thin mullions to a skin of net shutters. This steel trellis makes the transparent volume below evident by stark contrast, reverberating the image of the virtual jungle of hoardings, telecom towers, satellite dishes and temporary structures that now make up the Indian city skyline.
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