As you walk into this house, you begin to wonder where nature stops and home begins. Boulders form an outdoor settee, carved pillars are used as beams, the inner courtyard opens to the sky. The whole house has a very rustic feel to it. You even begin to wonder if you are in Whitefield or in a remote home, somewhere in Trichi!
The house we are referring to is the lovely two-year project of Anand Madanagopal and his wife Priyalakshmi. “It was my wife’s dream,” explains Anand as I try to maneuvre Simba, his friendly dog. “She always wanted to build a home that looked like her grandpa’s home, where she spent much of her childhood”.
The couple bought this plot and started construction in 2004. At first, only the small two-storeyed granite structure was completed. This small outer room, which now serves as his working studio and tool shed, was the first structure to come up.
The rest of their home was completed as and when they drew additional bank loans. Anand explains that they used a unique building technology, rat trap bonding while laying the bricks of his house. Created by the world renowned architect, Laurie Baker, it is essentially a type of hollow structure that is cost and energy efficient.
Eye for detail
As we walk through the house, we marvel at the antiques and an eye for detail that Anand has. The inner courtyard has a hollow concave border that channelises rain water to a drain below. Every pillar, door, furnishings and even the roof have their own stories.
The outer pillars are actual carved pillars from a rural home in Vellore. The owner sold it to Anand when he demolished his house to build a bigger concrete home. Rural homes are now transforming into smaller urban concrete structures, explains a wistful Anand.
If you look up to get a view of the roof, you will notice that the tiles used are not just the ordinary ‘Mangalore tiles’ but are actually rounded potter’s tiles. These were actually handmade by a potter in Krishnagiri. Anand spotted it while on a drive and requested the potter for such tiles. Over the next six months, the tiles came in batches to complete the roof.
In fact every furnishing in the house also has its own story to tell. The simple wooden table that stands in their kitchen is made of a wood that is now no longer available. The wood when polished gives a foul smell, something that the mason and Anand found out the hard way.
The small natural pond looks very surreal and inviting. It was only after Anand mentioned that snakes visit here sometimes that made me take a step back. He reassures us that they don’t come into the house but somehow the thought of reptiles unsettle us.
As I came out of Anand’s home, I quizzed him about the cost of construction. The whole project cost them around Rs 40 lakh. It wasn’t exactly inexpensive, but much less than the so-called “normal” houses.
As we drive past the huge constructions happening around Whitefield – where developers promise a bit of nature with every apartment – we realise that this couple had created a unique ambience in their own quiet nest.