In our urban cities and suburbs, when the proliferating densification is fast replacing our green covers with dystopic developments, how can nature reach our independent homes and habitations?
An Indian joint family sought a home where nature kindles the joys of living together, when they reached out to New Delhi-based architects Britta Knobel Gupta and Amit Gupta of Studio Symbiosis. The family of eight members wanted a villa that cuts the prevailing chaos of its context and makes vegetation the hero of its place. Villa KD45 was thus born as an inward-looking home that emerged from its landscape. Located in Ghaziabad – a dense suburb in New Delhi, India, the concrete architecture is nestled fluidly on its site, its sculptural built mass sitting in stark contradiction to the boxy buildings around it.
A key cue in the design development arose from the presence of a community park facing the site’s shortest edge. In addition to this, there were three existing trees on the property that the clients wanted to retain in their new home. Much like spilling the verdant green of the park onto the site and creating multiple routes of interaction “akin to navigating paths of a park”, the architects opened up the dimensionality of the site to create a model of green urban living.
“Thematically the design looks at flowing the green of the neighbourhood park in the site, with streamlines emerging from the park facing southern side and opening up towards the northern edge of the site,” comments the project team at Studio Symbiosis. “This base grid has been used to define the built-form and landscape zones such as water bodies, hardscape and softscape.”
The residential architecture constitutes of a habitable built form located along the east edge of the site, leaving the west side covered with an expansive lawn. What’s interesting about the building is its exploration of spatial possibilities, particularly in the effortless blending of the interior and exterior spaces. As one enters the site, a vast lawn and a winding water feature recessed in the ground is carved before an irregular two-storey exposed concrete volume. To reach the full-height glass entryway of the house, one passes by an outdoor landscape spine that has been integrated into the built volume. Emerging from the ground and rising two storeys to reach the roof, the spine features a stepped terrace with a rhythmic pattern of connecting steps and planters. “The landscape,” Britta and Amit tell STIR, “unfurls into the roof terrace and connects all floors, allowing the green terraces to be entirely occupiable. Each terrace is uniquely designed to correspond to a different time of day, maximising panoramic views of the site as well as the surrounding greenery.”
The spatial layout of the villa architecture follows the client’s brief who wanted a living space for his brother’s family and his parents on one floor, and the first floor with spaces for him, his wife and their son. Recreational indoor areas for the family were to be slotted in the basement which includes a gym, lounge, bar, and a home theatre. While creating those independent areas of privacy and communion in the design scheme, Studio Symbiosis also ensured there remain certain spaces that tie the two areas. “A double height living, dining and open kitchen space combine the two family floors into one zone of family living and thereby strengthening the family connectivity,” adds the design team.
The intensive geometricity of the outdoors seep into the interiors in the form of patterned surfaces, 3D modelled wall features, sculptural lighting elements and bespoke furniture. A monochromatic palette combining shades of blacks, browns, and greys appear throughout the spaces, creating harmony with the building’s overarching brutalist concrete aesthetic. Daytime lighting is mostly natural, where sunlight filtering through the trees outside is invited indoors via floor-to-ceiling glass windows. A seamless circulation is streamlined into the building’s layout – transitioning from public to private and semi-private areas – with reverence to the family’s need of privacy at all times. Enclosed by sections of leafy plants outside, certain nooks are crafted into the built volume which, much like a sanctuary, provide moments of rest and reflection for the family.
Britta and Amit attribute the idea of rekindling green urban living as the driving philosophy of the project. According to the duo, it took over 3.5 years to realise the project – from concept to execution, including the uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking of a significant challenge through the design journey, they add, “Designing and fully executing a space that embodied this ideology of sustainable living fused with luxury urban habitation was one of the challenges faced. One of the goals of this project was to not only preserve, but also celebrate the natural environment. […]The entire project from conception to execution focused on revering the verdant landscape of the site. The entire built form is enveloped by the lush greenery, almost to the point where built and green are truly one.”