Project Name: House on a Stream
Landscape: Architecture BRIO
Contractor: Aaryan Devcon
Location: Alibaug, India
Site Area: 4000 sqm
Built-up Area: 300sqm
Year of Commencement-Completion: 2009-2013
Program: Forest Retreat
Awards: The Merit List 2015-2016, JK Architecture of the Year Awards for Private Residence 2014, Trends Excellence Awards 2014, NDTV Design and Architecture Awards 2013.
The weekend residence project by Architecture BRIO is a unique example of how sophisticated architectural language that uses well-crafted and bold sculptural forms becomes instrumental in creating a genuine dialogue with the site and the natural setting in which it is located. For this private residence, the architecture of the project is informed by the site and the resultant work has considerable emphasis on the way it is situated. With a stream running through the house, this retreat in Alibaug delicately weaves into the landscape. It alternately opens up and closes itself to the different characteristics of the site. Though seasonal, the stream-bed allows for an interesting landscape feature throughout the year. A multitude of medicinal and fruit bearing trees provide for an intimate ambiance and comfortable micro-climate. A short walk along the stream before entering the house domain builds up a sense of anticipation.
The house consists of two parts: the day areas of the house (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. The house is like an organism trying to make most use of its resources and surroundings. With its several limbs, it reaches out into the landscape. Each “limb” makes full use of the views within the site and dramatizes special moments: a beautiful tree or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains. Since the owners are enthusiastic cooks, the kitchen is made the heart of the house: a large, inviting volume with a high ceiling. 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. Around this centre, three ‘wings’ span across into the landscape and anchor the house into the location. 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 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. The guest room wing embraces an existing tree to create a courtyard. It just about peeks across the dining room to have a view over the length of the stream. The swimming pool is aligned along the stream. It acts as a substitute for it during the dry season, and as an extension of it during the monsoons. 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.
With the House on a Stream, Architecture Brio successfully creates an elegant unification of contrasting elements. The openness of the House, owing to its huge fenestration, makes it an inherent part of the landscape, while maintaining its distinct individual identity.