Two Walls and a Dream

A housing complex in Lonavala, which empowers homeowners to co-design with architects, is the Project of the Year awarded by the Indian Institute of Architects.

Written by Ajit Rao | Published: August 4, 2016 12:15 am
 lonavala, lonavala housing complex, housing complex lonavala, design home, design your home, home decor, home interior, home architecture, indian institute of architects, indian express talk The Mumbai-based architects saw in this, an opportunity to implement radical solutions. “Both Shilpa and I are very interested in housing.

When MRP Associates from Mumbai approached architects Shilpa Gore-Shah and Pinkish Shah of S+PS Architects for a housing project, little did they know that it would win awards. The project has gone on to win the Project of the Year Award by the Indian Institute of Architects. “Design IY Housing in Lonavala”, by its collaborative force and multiple design devices, not only redefines the equation between the developer and the architect, but also gives residents a cosy nest to dream from.

The Mumbai-based architects saw in this, an opportunity to implement radical solutions. “Both Shilpa and I are very interested in housing.

We made many drawings explaining the possibilities, and the developers in turn pushed themselves further,” says Pinkish. The green premises of Shantivan Garden Apartments and Villas in Nangargaon has 79 residential units, and amenities such as a shopping complex and offices, a club house with swimming pool, and children’s play areas.

Digging into their years of expertise in interior planning, the architects worked out critical dimensions and components to bring efficiency and comfort into homes, from a 1.5 BHK to a 5 BHK. They evolved a basic module consisting of a simple structure made of two walls, a floor, a ceiling and a little loft inserted in the middle. Double-height glass covered both ends of the house, with one end overlooking a private green patch.

This simple design device empowers house owners to choose from the kit the architects provide, and co-design with them. For instance, internal stairs, windows, toilet layouts, and tiles could be customised for each house to reflect their personal identity.

Swati Aringale, one of the first owners, along with her husband, young daughter and aging mother-in-law, is utterly satisfied. “We did a small extension to the mezzanine to accommodate my daughter Pari and her grandmother on the same level. It is their space. They have a sense of privacy and they are connected to the rest of the house too,” says Aringale.

On the outside, the architects have orchestrated diverse spaces by cleverly interlocking and stacking the basic module of the house. Thus, new elements begin to emerge, from verandahs and terrace gardens to open staircases and children’s play areas. All are set in alliance with nature’s ingredients — the sky, the sun, the rain, and the trees. This stage-like backdrop provides the scope for community interaction.

Aringale says, “The central space between houses is a lively community space, just like in the villages. The private and public areas are uniquely blended, providing a safe haven for animated interactions between senior citizens and children. Besides old trees on the site, some existing heritage structures have been rejuvenated. By retaining these original inhabitants — the trees and the old structures, something deep-rooted has been achieved; a connection with the past.”

“The architects think out of the box. I enjoyed working with them as I also got a chance to show my potential, ” says Jayanti Parmar, one of the partner developers. “Also, I get more marks from the buyers because the design is unique,” he says. While such a project is not the first in its flexible design format, it certainly demonstrates that the talent of the cost-conscious developer and the imagination of the architect need not be in constant conflict. They can harmoniously create inspiring homes for people to nourish their dreams.

Ajit Rao is an architect, artist, animator and teacher residing in Lonavala

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