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An abodethe ‘Vastu’ way

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Originating in vedic times, vastu shastra, the traditional Hindu system of architecture, prescribes principles of design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space arrangement and spatial geometry. The designs are intended to integrate architecture with the cosmos, the relative functions of various parts of the structure, and ancient beliefs – utilising geometric patterns (yantras), symmetry and directional alignments. Located in a gated community, the design is replete with a variety of materials to reflect the tastes of the client, who is in the real estate business.

With a new generation subscribing to the benefits of following these principles (which purportedly can affect health, peace, finances and general well-being), it is not at all uncommon for architects to be informed by clients that the structure will have to be vastu compliant. In fact, vastu consultants identify locations of entrances, bedrooms, kitchens and various other minute details, which the architect is required to adhere to in his design.

Ar. Parikh was  required to conform to his design of this two-level 16,000sqft bungalow, sitting on a 28,000sqft plot.  From  artwork, colours of walls and the  materials used in different spaces, the bungalow is vastu compliant and  is  very much in sync with its aesthetic and all the conveniences of a contemporary lifestyle. “As he was open to new ideas and experimentation, the aesthetic is a plush, upmarket one, with no skimping or cutting of corners. The finishes are bespoke and detailed, contributing to a visual complexity which is supported by the size of the spaces,” says Parikh.

The Interior Layout

Incorporating a home theatre, puja room, waterfall, bar and family rooms, all requirements have been anticipated and provided for creating a luxurious experience. For instance, one of the two kitchens is meant for the exclusive use of the lady of the house, sporting an island with a breakfast table. A giant wooden knife, spoon and fork adorn one wall, proclaiming the culinary function of the room. The other kitchen is utilised by the staff for routine heavy duty cooking. All the bedrooms have a private dressing area with walk-in wardrobes, connected to the en suite bath. The glass of the shower panels had customised film which echoes the pattern of the tiles on the walls. Throughout the spaces, the ceilings are customised in a combination of wood, POP and acrylic lighting, incorporating both coves as well as spots. Doors are in solid wood, with corian handles.

The walkway to the house is not a straight one. It negotiates a right angle and ascends several steps before reaching the main door to the home. Two white marble swans flank the walkway at the road level. Further inside, three blue vases gushing water stand like sentinels alongside the walkway, enhancing the ambience. The car shelter is equipped with a 21ft cantilever in a tensile fabric.

The building is C-shaped and has an impressive double height glazed entrance, which opens into an explosion of space. The impression is aided and abetted by the glass which substitutes for walls in many areas, enabling views of other areas which invite exploration. The wooden ceiling above the dining table has acrylic lights in the spaces which existed in the trunk of the wood used, while a mural of hexagonal tiles on the adjoining wall is backlit for effect. A cantilevered staircase floats between two pillars, leading to the floor above. “The corridor on the first floor enjoys intense detailing, with suspended pergolas and a railing which is lit from the base,” says Parikh. Patterns in the artworks are subtly echoed in the upholstery or cushions, creating a sense of repetition in the space.

The master bedroom has a ‘floating’ bed with a leather headboard. The wall behind is clad with plywood to provide a 3D effect and also incorporates several small uplighters, the whole creating a rectilinear geometry. Their five-yearold daughter’s bedroom sees a coming together of colours in happy abandon, with pink, violet, greens, red, orange and a sunshine yellow jostling for attention. An informal arrangement on the ground floor combines the need of both parents and daughter for an afternoon siesta in the same bedroom. A double bed shares the space with a colourful bunk bed, enabling togetherness and bonding for the family.

Landscape and Sustainability

Ashish Teli, who handled the landscape, was cognizant of the fact that the large windows should bring in the landscape, without compromising on privacy. ‘In the harsh summers of Vadodara, the trees provide natural shade, allowing the verandahs to see more use by the family. The staircase, particularly, has a rain forest feel with the extent of greenery visible. So, although the trees are outside, they have been positioned to be viewed from the interior.’ Teli also points out that that the plot has almost no compound wall, so the plants not only create a hedge, but their green shield also provides a sound barrier.

“The garden is accessed from everywhere within the house, giving a feel of a private garden to each area. We sourced mature plants which were native to the area, so they would grow well. The effect is one of a lush, tropical forest,” he adds. In the event of a water scarcity, the clients were told to stop watering the lawn, when the supply is restored, all it takes is 10 days for the lawn to become green again. As for the larger trees, “They’re smart,” says Teli. “They only need watering for the first six months, after which the roots find their own sources. Some varieties like the champa and bougainvillea have to be parched in order to flower, so this works in our favour too. I’m happiest when clients call to say that the trees are flowering or bearing fruit.”

In fact, the garden is not mere eye candy – it is used for sit outs too by the family, weather permitting. Unfurling from the interior spaces, it has been incorporated seamlessly in the creative design. While most architects rue the limitations imposed by vastu on both form and function, it seems to be a happy marriage between the age old tenets and a contemporary sensibility, creating a design which comfortably straddles in the two worlds to deliver just what the client wanted!

Picture Courtes: Tejas Shah

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