Nestled in the picturesque valley of Khandala between Mumbai and Pune, the Monsoon Retreat was designed to capitalize on its privileged views of rolling hills, verdant vegetation, and the rich clay hues of the surrounding land. To ensure that interior spaces would be open to the landscape while still maintaining a sense of privacy and seclusion, Mumbai-based Abraham John Architects oriented the villa away from the driveway, maximizing glazings on the façades that look out toward the valley.
Living spaces were not thought of as exclusively internal, but rather, an extension of the outdoors through the house's interior. However, to create a truly authentic experience of living within the landscape, the architects designed the ultimate space for entertaining — a dining room island surrounded by a swimming pool.
Like a dock floating over water, the dining room sits on a small platform bordered on three sides by the alluring pool. Retractable glass walls can be folded back to create a space that is simultaneously indoors and outdoors. Residents and their guests can relax and enjoy the home-cooked cuisines and the comfort of friends, as well as the area's warm breezes and fresh air. Selective mood lighting, artful illumination, and landscaped gardens set the mood of the dining room as the villa's most dazzling space.
This same attention to the outside was applied to the house's living room, which was conceived as an “outdoor space” with abundant light and natural ventilation. It opens onto decks and gardens on either side, in keeping with the concept of transparency. Meanwhile, a continuous wall serves as a textured backdrop to the living room and continues onto an outdoor patio, lending it a rustic feel.
The architect's design also ensures that the house will stand up to Khandala's harsh climate — hence its name. Sloping roofs withstand the extreme monsoon rains experienced in the area, facilitating adequate drainage to prevent leaks. Natural sandstone materials, engineered wood flooring, and the use of cross breezes for ventilation help mitigate the effects of solar radiation, and minimize the need for air conditioning. An automated system of LED lights and extensive use of glazings help to reduce electrical consumption.