View of the House on a Stream
Location: Alibag, India
Copyright: Architecture BRIO
Structural Design: Vijay K. Patil & Associates
Realization: September 2013
Photography: Sebastian Zachariah, Photographix
Simply named House on a Stream, this retreat in Alibag is planned on the banks of a rivulet, where it gracefully merges with the surrounding landscape, alternately opening and closing itself to various aspects of the site. A warm, unique micro-climate is created around the house as a spray of medicinal and fruit bearing trees surround the structure.
Placed on the banks of the stream, the house makes a sudden S-curve. The streambed, although seasonal, has been incorporated in the design as an appealing landscape feature that is noteworthy throughout the year. A sense of anticipation is created as one takes a short walk along the stream before entering the house.
Master Pavilion Cantilevered
The conceptualization of the project started as a Cartesian response to the site, however, became deformed, stretched and pushed in along the process. This diverse response to the site context makes the house draw a comparison with an organism trying to make the most of his surroundings.
With its several limbs, the house extends itself into the landscape, making full use of the various vistas offered within the site and embellishes unique moments; a beautiful tree, a view of the mountains beyond or the gushing stream during the monsoons.
The house is divided in two parts; the day areas such as the dining/kitchen, the living room and entrance verandah are separated from the master bedroom by a bridge that spans across the stream. Regarding the owners’ love for cooking, the kitchen is made to be the core space in the house, with a generous, inviting volume having a high ceiling, complete with a skylight that enlivens the space with natural light.
Guest Bedroom Veranda
Bridge over the Stream
The kitchen forms the anchor of the house from where it branches out to the surroundings, its various limbs reaching for the landscape around the existing components of the site. The living room on the left, lifted off the ground, presents the user with a panoramic view of the mountains in the distance.
Kitchen and Living Room
An existing tree is used in the design of the guest room, as this space appears to embrace the tree, creating a courtyard. The room just peeks across the dining area to have a view over the length of the stream. The pool, designed along the stream, celebrates the rivulet in the monsoons and acts a memory of the same during the dry season.
The orientation of the structure is based on climatic considerations. The bedrooms, with large verandahs, have been placed on the western side, to be graced by the evening sun. The living room, a day area, faces east with a large veranda.
Living Room Veranda
The kitchen, dining and pool areas are north facing areas shaded by large trees. With the exception of a picture window framing the view from the pantry of the fields beyond, the southern façade of the house is closed and more solid.
Dining Room Veranda
The external structural concrete shell contracts and expands in plan as well as in section. The external form of the structure responds to the site and its orientation, flowing from high to low in accord with the monolithic fluidity of its form. Internally, the shell responds to the creation of space and acts as a guide for the eye to frame a particular view. Thus, the outside and inside are apart, with the internal spaces being defined with the volumes created by the changing thickness of the internal ceiling.
Guest Bed Room
The interiors, with the white washed ceilings and walls, annul the heaviness created by the concrete mass. A central skylight and large sliding doors, spanning from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, break the distinction between the interiors and the natural surroundings outside.
Master Bed Room Veranda
The ‘limbs’ of the living room and the two bedrooms are cantilevered, so as to defy the heaviness created by the concrete volumes. By lifting these masses off the ground, the house’s relationship with the landscape paradoxically is strengthened.
View of the Exterior of the House
Various asymmetrical axes throughout the house are involved in creating a path of discovery. The entrance path is aligned with the axis of the pergola. This path embraces the pool and enters the dining room on the left side. One corner of the dining room overlaps with the conically shaped volume of the kitchen. As the axis of the dining room is shifted off the axis of the kitchen and the level of the living room is raised, this area becomes a more secluded space.
Also, it allows a glazed door in the kitchen, making this space release itself to the outdoors and view along the external living room wall. Steel framed box windows are placed symmetrically at strategic positions along the interior walls of the house. Protruding through the concrete walls, these openings highlight certain unique elements of the site, like the bark of a tree, or a peek from the master pavilion to the main house.
Kitchen and Dining Room
The entire structure is cast in plank-finished concrete with a vertical grain. The sculptural quality of the house is accentuated by the homogeneous materialization, giving an appearance of the house moulding itself around the site. Owing to the humid Indian climate, the exposed concrete attracts a patina that becomes richer and more alive with time.
Master Pavilion Cantilever
The grey textured surface of the structure provides a muted facade against the animated green surrounding.
Pool Pergola from Lawn
The graceful timber screens further soften the greyness of the concrete. Acting as a buffer between the interior spaces and the exterior surroundings, these screens also create an exciting play of sciography on the floors and walls of the house.
With the House on a Stream, Architecture BRIO successfully creates an elegant unification of contrasting elements; the surrounding raw greenery and the hardness of the exterior concrete shell. The openness of the House, owing to its huge fenestration, makes it an inherent part of the landscape, while maintaining its distinct individual identity.
Dining Room and Kitchen
Master Bedroom and Veranda
Guest Bathroom and Courtyard
Master Walk-in Wardrobe
Master Bathroom and Courtyard
Ground Floor Plan