The design brief was quite straightforward 1) There was to be a basement with three subdivisions, one of these is an architectural office 2) A stilt with four independent driveways and parking for about 12 to 13 cars. 3) Above were four floors of four bedroom units each. 4) Topped by a terrace also with three subdivisions.
The demolished house was an incrementally built exposed brick structure. The owners wanted the new building to conjure memories of the original house through a continuum of the material palette. They wanted the building to have a crafted look while using simple hardy and low maintenance materials. The project being located abutting a very busy city thoroughfare we wished to imbue it with a sense of an urban oasis not only thought the actual greenery and plantations but also figurative greenery in terms of floral motifs occurring all across the building. Hence the name Floral House
The building is on a 550 square yard plot in a South Delhi colony. To the West is the 30 foot wide lane with houses across. On the south is a sliver of green with full grown Mango and Ashok trees which separates the property from the abutting heavily trafficked Arterial Road, on the East is a park and on the North is another plot. On three side we left the regulated setbacks of 10 feet and on the southern side the building was set back just enough to retain the existing greenery. The main design thought behind the front elevation was to distribute and delineate the three feet wide balconies of each flat so that each had its unique presence on the front facade. The brick facade cladding was detailed elaborately and reworked to some extent on site in collaboration with the brick masons to give a textured feel to the façade and the balcony parapet walls. The first sense of the figurative greens mentioned earlier is seen on the faced in the floral motifs in granite on the facade, balcony fascia, screen jail as well as the soffit of the chajja of the third floor. On entering the property the stilt was designed with exposed concrete ceilings with floral motifs cast into the soffit of the slabs. The flooring consisting of a combination of Khareda, yellow Kotah, brick and heritage tiles was designed to give the feel of a garden walkway so in the absence of cars it blended well with the greenery on the southern edge of the site. Leaf patterns were also hand etched into some of stones.
The challenge on the stilt was to have four independent driveways and light wells for each of the three basement subdivisions without sacrificing on the parking.
The common stairwell was designed with very low maintenance surfaces with the stairs being a combination of Khareda treads and heritage tile on the risers. As you go up the building. The ground first and second floors were designed as four bedroom units customized in layouts to each owners specific requirements.
The third floor flat interior is in continuity with the exterior of the building with exposed concrete ceilings and exposed brick walls running along one face of the house. At the entry there is lobby whose main feature is an antique wooden pillar. On the right of this lobby are the more public aspects of the house formal living and two guest bedrooms and on the left are the family lounge dining kitchen and two main bedrooms.
The formal living is oriented towards the front of the house with a large balcony. Flooring here is a variant of Jaisalmer called Ita gold, this has been used extensively throughout the house. The roof is partly wood veneered and partly exposed concrete with cast in situ floral motifs. Adjacent to this is one of the guest bedrooms. The flooring here is a combination of ita gold and heritage tiles with an antique motif. As we head back towards the entrance lobby we cross a pantry which doubles up as a kitchen when the flat is subdivided and a second guest room.
On the other side of the entrance lobby is the family lounge cum dining which is the heart of the house and the only room which runs across the entire width of the plan. There is cantilevered wood stair at one end made from wood salvaged form the stair of the original house. The stairs which lead to the terrace garden allow for the vertical expansion to this space. The space below the stair is a water body with a fountain which is the highlight of this space. Besides its soothing presence, the water body through evaporative cooling serves a very useful purpose in Delhi’s hot and dry summers. The furniture here, like the dining table and the side and center table have varied floral motifs.
Adjacent to the family lounge is a semi open kitchen whose wall and floors are tiled. At the end of the corridor is a Puja cabinet with back lit sandwiched silk screen shutters which appears as a decorative lantern when viewed from the family lounge.
The two main bedrooms on the East have expansive view of the Park beyond. The daughter’s bedroom on the south eastern corner is bathed with natural light throughout the day. In this bedroom the floor is heritage tiles having a contemporary pattern with colors which complement the color scheme of the room. The attached bathroom has walls clad with stone and a combination of hand glazed tiles with flower motifs.
The master bedroom on the North East has an interesting feature in the form of a skylight above the Northern wall, which bathes it with sunlight thorough the day. This bedroom has a wooden floor and a tiled highlight wall beyond the bed headrest. The master bathroom is a combination of stones and hand glazed and printed tiles.
Above is the terrace garden which plays a very important role in reducing the heat gain from the roof. The garden has a small glazed shed structure constructed from the salvaged bricks and windows of the original house. This structure which is both meditation cum play room sits atop the skylight of the master bedroom. This makes for an interesting section as the sunlight penetrates through the structure, through the skylight and then into the master bedroom.