Located in the rural town of Thane, just outside of bustling
Through careful consideration of its materiality, The Vrindavan Project have designed the envelope of the
From afar, the house appears to be somewhat floating on its landscape. The illusion is created by a low floating plinth beam that’s wrapped around the home’s perimeter. Tucked under it, a moat runs around the entire building. You’re probably thinking, is this a castle? Do they have castles in Thane? Not quite. Farm House’s moat not only serves as a pleasant water feature, but more so exists to deal with the rural site’s many environmental challenges; the body of water protects the home from various infestations, and also enables passive cooling, to help the home through Maharastra’s warmer months. The moat is filled with overflow water from the pool, and goes on to feed the farm’s plantations.
Embedded with orange veining, Farm House’s earthy brown rammed earth walls encompass the building in natural soil found from nearby sites. Yes, they’re texturally enticing and prove to be quite a feature, however, aesthetics was not the only reason this material was used. Rammed by hand, The Vrindavan Project opted to use a shuttering assembly. What does this mean? One single apparatus allowed the team to build walls of any size, using only human energy, and basic raw materials. This means that a full 8-foot by 8-foot wall could go up in as little as one day, all while producing a naturally low carbon footprint. The bonus? The rammed earth walls are also structural, holding up the entire roof of the home. No columns or piers required!
Much like many contemporary Indian homes, Farm House mostly embraces concrete ceilings. However, in an effort to approach this more sustainably, the architects introduced something quite unique—small earthen pots. These are available almost everywhere in India. They’re almost always locally made and come in a few basic standard sizes.
While they may seem decorative, these small earthen pots do a lot more than just make for an interesting architectural feature. “Inverted terracotta pots cast hollow fillers into the basic slab thickness, minimizing the concrete content required and drastically reducing the dead load of the structure,” shares The Vrindavan Project’s Ranjeet Mukherjee. So really, what they’re doing here is taking something as humble as the basic Indian earthen pot, and using it as both an architectural and sustainable construction solution.
In the bedrooms, the ceilings take a different approach; there are no steel beams, no columns and no concrete (and, no earthen pots). There are, however, sculptural vaulted brick ceilings. It is in these rooms that The Vrindavan Project celebrates the structural strengths of brickwork—and really glorify it. Large shutter-like windows line the walls, working with the bowing brick ceiling to draw in both natural light and naturally ventilate the space.
Salvaging timber doors, windows and even timber columns from demolished mansions in Karaikkudi in Tamil Nadu, Farm House ensures that even the timber used in its home contributes towards its sustainability ambitions. This also comes with the big win of scoring premium timber that the home may not have otherwise had.
Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is the geometric gazebo, designed as five interlocking pyramid structures. “We attempted to innovate the region’s traditional roof form by using locally acquired timber with standard Mangalore tiles,” explains Ranjeet Mukherjee, who managed to create something contemporary and unique. Open on all four sides, the gazebo stitches together the garden, the pool, the recreation area and the home.
| The article