Ar. Manish Banker Pune, India
Design Team: TAO ARCHITECTURE
Airy, scenic, spacious, and landscaped; seemed like unimaginable attributes for a residence on a tight, gloomy, 3400 sq.ft. plot in the dense residential locales of Ahmednagar. To counter opposing site conditions, the living space was conceived as an inward-facing structure enclosing a central landscaped courtyard. What resulted, was a light-filled, spacious, living, breathing abode with striking visual elements and contemplative open spaces.
The Courtyard House is planned with two parallel double-story blocks on either side of an open-to-sky court; connected at the upper level, by a 10’ wide terrace bridge. The entire structure is united by a long sloping Mangalore tiled roof. A rough Nevada stone-clad loggia forms an inviting foyer for the home, its warli painted masonry and square openings giving a ‘wada’ like feel to the space.
Inside the house, a cozy living room is illuminated by a large glazed wall overlooking a serene landscaped court. Semi-private spaces like the dining room and kitchen flow into the family room, with services strategically concealed toward the back of the house. The courtyard acts as the pivotal element, forming the connecting link between primary functional spaces; and essentially, between all family members, its attractive ambiance encourages outdoor living, and promotes a spiritual connection between the residents and their natural environment.
A central mango tree along with a seated Buddha sculpture lends the open space a sense of calm, transforming the semi-open verandah into a contemplative retreat, complete with a rustic wooden swing. Towards the east, the greenery filters into the grandparents’ room, to fuse with a private semi-covered verandah; beyond which, a vehicular entry allows a car parking space. A red stucco-finished staircase forms a lightwell, illuminating the living spaces through a skylight, as it connects to the basement and the first floor. The first-floor lobby houses a library and study, linking the guest and master bedroom on the west block with the terrace bridge leading to the east block. The suspended connecting lobby overlooks the courtyard below, forming a breezy sit-out for the first floor. Bedrooms are provided with bay windows and private sit-outs; a hierarchy of private, semi-private, and family open spaces ensuring varying degrees of privacy to all inhabitants. Apart from tempering the microclimate of the living spaces through its greenery, the courtyard helps set up a passive ventilation system for the house, along with the stack ventilation shaft of the staircase, and turbo vents on the roof. Skylights and windows allow natural daylighting while photovoltaic panels help produce green energy. Combined with LED lights and natural materials, such strategies ensure a minimal carbon footprint for the building. Terracotta pots on the roof provide natural thermal insulation.
A creative blend of traditional and contemporary, the Courtyard House incorporates vernacular architectural elements not only as sustainable strategies but also as aesthetic features, connecting the residents with their roots while ensuring the convenience of a modern lifestyle. Yellow painted external walls and red Mangalore roof tiles impart a vibrant exterior color scheme complementing the earthy tones of the natural materials. The raw greys of local Nevada and Kota stones in the courtyard, dotted with splashes of greenery and lined with teak wood doors and pebble-filled channels, complete the aesthetic appeal of a rustic retreat.
All in all, the courtyard house, with its tranquil beauty and traditional appeal, emphasizes the importance of time-tested vernacular techniques and a sensitive approach toward the environment as effective design solutions for today’s architectural problems.