Making odd spaces work

This South Bangalore home, built on a longitudinal site, is based on the principles of a traditional courtyard house. It is blessed with a lot of natural light,writes Apurva Bose Dutta.

KEEPING IT SIMPLE : The design of Manjunath’s residence is  uncomplicated. (Photos courtesy: Maya Architects)

Good use of architectural principles can help a home owner overcome constraints of space with ease. The Manjunath residence in South Bangalore designed by Bangalore-based Maya Architects fights the constraints of a 20’x60’ longitudinal site to create a house awash with natural light through its concept of a traditional courtyard house.

A three-tiered house, the requirement was for a ground floor with a car park and a one BHK (for commercial purposes) topped by a three-bedroom duplex and a terrace for the family. Manoeuvring of spaces comes across as a dominant aspect in Maya Architects’ designs, conceptualised by principal architects and partners, Naveen Kumar Deshpande and Dev Kumar R.

The exterior of the house is a melange of levels and voids highlighted by accent colours which seem very characteristic of the firm’s creations which have a flair for geometry. In this fully Vaastu-compliant house (that was the client’s requirement), the north entrance of the east-facing site leads into the foyer, opposite the courtyard which serves as the multifunctional lung space in the house. Glass bricks arranged horizontally over each other in this area, besides making for a pretty picture, bring in much of light as does the skylight. Granite seats and greenery enhance the beauty of the space.

The architects point out that it was tough getting the clients to agree to the courtyard since they felt it would be a waste of space. It was only later, during the house-warming party, that they realised how the children had made that space the hub of their activity. The real significance of the space was revealed to the family then. This floor encompasses a bedroom, the kitchen, a pooja and a dining besides the living whereas the upper floor consists of two bedrooms, family room and a balcony.

Use of different materials

The house plan comes across as a modest, simple, unfussy design given a feel by use of different materials. Natural granite adorns the floor and stairs whereas black granite accentuates the pauses in the form of seats and flooring strips. The vitrified tiles in the balcony impart an earthy look.

The white plastered walls evidently make the space look larger with a few coloured textured walls, one of them being the wall backing the TV unit in the living room which has a stream of light coming in from its horizontal skylight.

Interesting details emerge in the form of a black granite slab topping on the wall near the staircase acting as a potential space for displaying artefacts. Ditto for the square voids bordered by black granite in these walls helping space to flow through besides acting as another display area.

A crockery unit is neatly tucked under the staircase as is a bench and a cupboard in the foyer. The staircase balustrade has rectangular wenges to hold collages and pictures.

The freestanding pooja room highlighted by the butchered glass has been covered on the top by glass according to the principles of Vaastu, where an air gap between the puja space and the floor above you walk on, is mandatory.

The custom-made bookshelf in the family room on the upper floor doubles up as a wardrobe on its other side opening into the master bedroom.

The bridge connecting the family room on this level to the children’s room serves as a great hang out place with views of the central courtyard space.

The architects clearly like to take small spaces as challenges and candidly say that since the neighbouring houses were 40’x60’, they didn’t want their clients to feel deprived of space.

A small area (thanks to its longitudinal dimensions) comes across as a space soaked in natural light, deftly masquerading its smaller dimensions.

What holds important in a space is also the way it is used and maintained, as the architects rightly put it. Good architecture can mak any space stand out. The architecture of the Manjunath house is exemplary of this fact. 
 
(The author is an architectural journalist.)

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