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Design that makes every inch count

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Step 2 Design Studio, a Navi-Mumbai based architecture practice, enjoys reviving old and discovering new by adopting materials and construction techniques to achieve economic, climatic and spatial efficiency

What is the biggest hindrance for anyone who is hoping to have a cosy home in a city like Mumbai? Space. Some may even consider leaving the city to have a comfortable life with a big house at half the cost of buying a small apartment in Mumbai. But for some, the constraints of space does not stop one from making it look bigger and better. We are talking about a tranquil and cost-effective house “ A Cosy Dwelling “of Suresh Nair located at the Artist’s Village, C.B.D. Belapur, Navi Mumbai. A small footprint of 63 sqmt may not seem like a lot of space. But to some, it’s more than enough to create a comfortable and welcoming home.

Enter Step 2 Design Studio, a multidisciplinary design practice helmed by three young architects; Amey Mhatre, Amit Kadam and Parag Joshi, and their conviction that one can make the most of a small space without losing the integrity of space. The architect trio came together and formed the studio with an intention to create quality spaces associated with social and natural context. The team strives for sustainability and simplicity in its architecture.

A Cosy Dwelling is one of the recent projects where the team has demonstrated its capabilities to build keeping the construction cost low by using reclaimed and locally available materials and construction techniques.

The rebuilt house has a total built up area of 170 sqmt. To meet spatial requirements of the family of four, the house is built on three floors stacked vertically.

The house is a part of low cost housing community. A wisely planned neighborhood with ample community courtyards for social communication and landscaped open pockets to provide light and ventilation. This creates a quality micro-climate. The house carries these characters in the form of private courtyard and wide openings towards surroundings. Materials and details come from the drive to create quality spaces with low energy consumption.

The house is a compactly planned response to densely planned community housing. It walks on a line between being shy and exuberant. It keeps the social character alive by opening out towards community around while provides private spaces to occupants by shying away just enough. Private spaces in the house open into a private courtyard allowing fresh and natural light inside keeping privacy intact. Public spaces of the house have wide openings that provide cross ventilation and natural light as well as inspire a social dialogue. Ground floor opens up fully towards courtyard outside connecting with community space. Porous exposed brick wall keeps the house breathing well. Skylights in private spaces avail natural light during the day and provide striking sky views at night.

Many materials from the original house are recycled in the rebuilt house to find new use. Flooring stones from original house are resized and used. Water supply galvanized iron pipes from demolished house are used as safety railings for staircase which also carry insulated electrical conduits. Half-baked kiln bricks are used for exposed porous façade. Random brick units in the masonry are turned perpendicular to the wall to form air intake punctures. Rain water/moisture is absorbed by bricks and it cools down the air flowing through small punctures. Smaller sized openings also convert harsh afternoon light into quality ambient light.

Reviving old & discovering new is the method for adopting materials and construction techniques to achieve economic, climatic and spatial efficiency

Cement flooring with epoxy coating aids achieve undisturbed surfaces. This renders modest spaces large visually. Recycled wooden doors form the partition between community courtyard outside and sit-out space inside.

The family of four cherishes prirate moments and conversations in connection with the nature at the family lounge. The guests are entertained in the living room. Sit-out space on the ground floor allows large gathering stimulating social activities. With well-lit and ventilated spaces moods are always light and the house is always flooded with merrymaking.

Sun pat and shadow patterns were studied meticulously to achieve well-lit and ample shaded interiors. Wind patterns were analysed and openings were oriented to capture best ventilation possible. Rigorous analysis of local, recyclable and industrial waste material from the vicinity was applied before employing cost efficient materials. All this lead to cost and space efficiency.

Meeting up space requirements of client was strenuous within the constrained footprint of the building. Vertical space stacking system was the most appropriate solution to meet all the requirements. This also allows the to rise above surrounding low-profile houses and catch light and wind. Retaining quality micro-climate within the house was challenging due to constrained exposure towards environment around. This was tackled using height to the advantage. Introducing open to sky private courtyard. Keeping the construction cost low was another challenge met by using reclaimed & locally available materials and construction techniques.

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