A down-to-earth and environment-friendly weekend home near Pune: The Cove House by Red Brick Studio
As the notion of hustle-life takes over control, the desire for a detachment from the chaotic urban life also gets ardent. The ever-rising concept of having a weekend home has become a luxury that people are exposed to now. The idea that by being surrounded by nature, one could unwind and rejuvenate themselves from more hectic schedules, has posed a riveting question to the architects in practice: How does one design to let nature take over, such that the feeling of liberation persists within built spaces?
"The house was designed to be a non-building. When one is here, it feels like you're more outside than a part of the house."
- Ar. Ankur Kothari
That is the first thought that laid the foundation for The Cove House, a self-effacing weekend home near Pune. Architects Ankur Kothari and Ankit Poduval of Red Brick Studio came up with a modest solution when a family of four approached them to design their abode of solitude.
SETTING AND VIEWS
Nestled in the lap of Sahyadris, the site has magnificent views of the Western Ghats and backwaters of the Panshet Dam. Remotely located and engulfed in nature, the site is exposed to rich flora and fauna. Not only was it a contoured site, but the architects were also restricted with a footprint of 150 sq. m. even though the plot measured an acre. Numerous aerial shots of the site give a glimpse of the lush setting, allowing the home to take in the refreshing views.
Optimally utilizing the small piece of flat land, this building was placed along the contours of the site, which in turn also opens up the longitudinal side of the house towards the lake views. Consecutively, with the shorter sides being on the east and west, this adaptation also helps in controlling the heat intake the building would have. Along the length of the house, ancillary areas were plugged-in to meet the client's requirement of having large spaces to accommodate guests for a get-together. Descending a series of steps, one enters the house and into the seamless and centrally-placed living area, flanked by a deck that connects the user to the impeccable views that the environmental surroundings lend.
CONCORDANCE WITH GREENS
The architects wanted the built mass to blend into the natural setting, rather than stand out to make a statement. Approaching the site through the rugged roads, one comes face to face with a site sloping down and a 'non-building' with the structure's crest only just appearing. All the pre-existing landscapes such as the various trees: guava, chiku and neem, to name a few, were retained around the site. A seamless transition between the built and the unbuilt spaces is established with the inclusion of wild grass and boulders that were excavated during the construction.
THE CONCAVE ELEMENT
At the same level as the property's entrance, floating above the built structure, this monolith of a roof has been designed to receive natural sunlight and serene views with open arms. A series of clerestory windows below the roof brings in a dynamic play of light and shadow throughout the day. Apart from the V-shaped steel column lending structural stability to the roof at the end, this mono-roof is constructed in ferrocement with a thickness of only 50 mm. For the drier parts of the year, the curve of the roof also facilitates the collection of rainwater.
Apart from the idea of being in tune with nature, the material palette has been hand-picked after considering the extreme climatological aspects. Defying the conventional use of paint, the exterior walls are finished in grit plaster along with red oxide to give it a very earthy tone that matches the colour of the soil around the structure. This tone of red oxide is continued in the interiors, only in a smoother finish.
In a nutshell, the design of this weekend retreat is such that it acknowledges the natural setting that it is cradled in and does not hinder the flora and fauna which surrounds it.
To watch the full video of The Cove House and access a detailed E-Book of the project, visit here.