[one_half_last][alert-success]Architect: Jeeth Iype [/alert-success]

Prior to the design of our home, was the design of the community, “Good Earth”. An attempt to create an environment, which enhanced social interaction while retaining the privacy of its inhabitants. Conceived by a group of friends, the community  is an outcome of aspiring to live in a sustainable, environment friendly neighborhood.

Located on the outskirts of Bangalore, we selected a site of 3000 sq.ft. out of 25 sites, on which we attempted to realize some of our ideas. The site was picked for its trapezoidal shape, and the soothing presence of two large canopied rain trees on it.

After endless discussions about our lifestyle, present and future, and some intrepidation of committing our ideas to paper!! We began crystallizing the design, with the areas which we had a consensus on. “It should be a verandah with a house attached”, “it should not be a very large house, and yet be spacious”, Should be easy to maintain, Should have one large informal space, which would be the heart of the home, where all of us, including friends and family would “hang out”. We were also quite clear about the materials we wanted to use, bricks, local stone, wood, terracotta, mangalore tiles, were clear choices, so a lot of the design was built around them.

The house is oriented to a private rear courtyard, facing north – east, walled with a mosaic of rubble and mud plaster, with the tree as the focus. The front, which is west, has fewer openings, into the living area. The walled courtyard was a response to the need for a courtyard which is easier to maintain as compared to an internal courtyard, which also needs a larger house. We kept the bedrooms basic, indulging in an attic in the children’s room, and a closet in our bedroom. Our bathroom faced one of the trees, so we planned to have a walled terrace, so we could enjoy the tree from the bath, which eventually evolved into a built in bathtub.

We started building with a basic plan, and a clear understanding of the language we were going to use – exposed bricks, and “chapdi stone”. There was also some clarity on a minimalist look – no ornamental brickwork. A lot of the details evolved on site, in collaboration with the masons. The niches, the slits at the staircase landing, the parapet wall, the courtyard wall, were all designed on site, the skill of the masons contributing a lot to the detail. The woodwork, in the roof too was worked out with the carpenters.  Their expression of the vernacular often contradicted our “controlled ornamentation”.  Some of the decisions were made after experiencing the space, like the spiral stair in the children’s room, the staircase railing, which created some delay in the finishing, but still, the house was finished in one and a half years’ time.

The finishes were the most debated upon, in terms of practicality versus “look and feel”.  Slate and sandstone in the bathrooms, took precedence over ceramic and granite. Bathroom walls painted with polyurethane paint, as opposed to tiles.

The kitchen uses granite top and terracotta mural tiles on the walls, except for the cooking area, which is clad with a slab of teak stone. Yellow oxide with slate inlays in the verandah, and blue oxide in the bathtub.

After having designed a number of houses for other people, it took controlled effort, not to put in all our ideas into this house, although there were many which did not fit into this context. The finality of actually building something we had been talking about for so long was quite overwhelming at the time.

And today as we share a cup of tea in the courtyard, and our children play in the hammock, one can enjoy the space, and leave all those other ideas for another time, another place.


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