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The Hill Haven

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Saattal is a group of seven freshwater lakes near the Himalayas in the Uttarakhand district of India. Famous for its Oak and Pine trees, the lake sits scenically in the Mehragaon valley. The cottage is sited at the peak of a hilly area with glorious views of the valley. The Built form is designed to optimize the scenic views and to provide maximum open space for the inhabitants.


Being a holiday home, the house is planned with common spaces in an open-plan format in addition to the private spaces. As each area is designated to have a valley view, multiple spaces are created such as open terrace to sun bathe and private balconies, common verandahs and a porch to enjoy the weather. Abundant natural light filters through the house through huge windows through which the sun set and the dawn of neighbouring Nainital and the lakes can be enjoyed. The windows also allow for picturesque views and an open-air living.


The Plan

The house 1930sqft in area sits on a site of 2690sqft. The ground floor houses the common activity areas where the family can spend leisure time together cooking and eating, while the first floor accommodates the private rooms. The house designed to respect the site conditions has areas opening onto expansive views of the sun and the mountains with cross ventilation throughout the day negating the need for air-conditioning even in peak summers. The landscaping has been kept fairly simple with a large garden and flower beds, to keep the emphasis on the natural surroundings and bring in nature into the built volume.

The Construction

The building is designed as a concrete framed structure with brick infills as walls. Locally available stone cladding on the façade renders the home an earthly quality and aids in the merging of the building with the landscape. For the entire built structure, regional materials are used to make the cottage ecology friendly. The whole construction has been done with the help of local craftsmen’s to use their skills and to generate work for them in that area. The site is equipped with solar panels for solar water heating and rain water harvesting pits, keeping in mind the energy and water conservation. Onsite vegetation has been maintained and preserved.


The intent of the interior design is to provide a cosy modern rustic cottage feel to the spaces. The flooring for most of the spaces is done in wood which adds warmth and character to the interiors while keeping the floor warm during winters. A Natural wood fireplace, built from locally available material is created in the living area to enjoy the wintery nights, looking out into the valley. The house has plenty of daylight during the day and only requires artificial light during in the evening/night. The sloping roof has been highlighted in the interiors in the bedrooms on the first floor which also helps in providing higher heights and bigger volumes.


“We work with the principle of the user being the most significant aspect of any design exercise. Also, India has a rich culture of art and crafts which are a beneficial dividend that can be adapted to our advantage. An integrated approach helpes us achieve a blend of programmatic requirements together with traditional craftsmanship and contemporary aesthetics.“

Ankita Mittal

Founder and Director, Mold Design Studio

Designed as a home away from home, the house is equipped with all facilities. Simplistic in materiality, the house is planned around the needs of the family, whilst blending beautifully with its surroundings and context. An in-depth design process coupled with structured involvement of the client and local artisans has resulted in an optimized, dynamic and a sustainable solution.


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