Project Name: Mehr
Architect: Krishnan Parvez Architects
The new requirement arising from changed circumstances motivated architectural experimentations with alternate paradigms. Mehr, a weekend retreat home for a young urban family living in Mumbai by Krishnan Parvez Architects, is located at walking distance from Kalote Lake in a serene village off the old Mumbai-Pune road. The project called for contemporary architecture in a rural context with the plot being situated as part of a gated community. The architecture explores a creative process of adaptation from ethnic rural design elements. This process suggests a new set of collective and expressive design elements that emerge from rural architecture in conjunction with new architectural formation. The essence of the design reflects in manifesting bricks and mosaic more elaborately to create a decorative and symbolically potent surface.
The concept of the design revolved around the principle of a capacious version of a typical domestic compound around an open courtyard with interiors bounded by low mud bricks and mosaic walls, thus, maximizing the use of the land.
The design and spatial configuration demonstrates a range of experiments with vernacular architecture synthesizing appropriations from contemporary spatial organization which preserves the designers play with available architectural forms. The structural massing constitutes of a common living-dining area which being the largest space in the house, was kept open and connected to all the other rooms, in order to make a visual-verbal interactive space. The lower level of the block is made up of the parent’s room, a day bed room, kitchen and utilities. The upper level houses the private bedrooms with balconies and long cantilevered timber seats.
A floating light weight sloping roof inclined towards the north side of the house, typically reveals the idea of a flying carpet , which was built with structural steel framework and fiber cement boards.
The orientation of the openings culminate an image of repeated rhythms of angular dancing bodies of light, that express the passion of organizational light patterns.
The voluminous interconnecting spaces with wide openings provide ideal cross ventilation. To avoid air-conditioning the large living space,an HVLS fan was installed to reduce energy consumption yet make the space comfortable.
The entrance to the house is divided into two parts, namely the pedestrian entrance and the two car port vehicular entry. The use of traditional bell in the form of the rope connected to the metal contraption by means of a pulley sets the mood of arrival. The presence of the bell monumentalized and pronounced integration of vernacular elements into contemporary architecture that unmistakably signifies the successful absorption of indigenous distinctiveness.
The all metal fabricated doorway leads to an open to sky court with the backdrop of floor to ceiling jali screen panels which hideaway the main door to the house.
The interiors typically built of fire bricks and adorned with a veneer of mosaic narrative panels that are scattered throughout the double height walls claim originality to the creative use of elements drawn from distinctive vernacular architecture.
The living space was laid with rough stone slabs in natural shapes. The dining and the entrance level were laid with coloured cement mosaic floor in polished finish. The entrance court and the dining court were laid with the same materials in a grit wash finish.
The master bedroom is a soothing, airy space that is dominated by the light coming in from the large pivoted screen panels and the clerestory window located above the wardrobe. Keeping in mind the family’s love of art, an artist was commissioned to do a personalized artwork on the wardrobe panels as a focal point. This art is based on the storyline depicting the family- husband, wife and the two daughters.
The children’s room occupies a large four post bed for providing scale to the overall volume. The railing in the balcony was replaced by the long projecting timber-metal seat, which overlooks the lake and mountains. This seamlessly unites with the outdoor environment, thus creating a feeling of oneness with nature.
A projecting balcony over the dining space supports a large overhead projecting lamp suspended over the dining table. The outdoor dining court behaves as an extension to this space when the door is completely slid open.
The sliding roof over the bathroom allows the client to bath in an open to sky atmosphere. The adjacent open court further infuses greens to render a feeling of serenity and openness. Upstairs, the drama is substantially increased with the jali screen panels throwing triangles of light all over the floor and walls. The screen travelling from the entrance court incorporates sandwiched glass at this level with top hung panels to aid ventilation.
The replication of distinctive features in brick and mosaic have been interpreted as an attempt to give familiar form to a structure that was foreign in function to a newly converted architectural design.
Such requisition of local vocabularies masking and domesticating contemporary presence, create a distinct cultural identity. In appropriations of vernacular elements the architects created their own signature style and design statement allied and yet a part of contemporary architecture.
– Niyati Shetty ,Volume Zero.