DESIGN PATAKA # 22 -The Machan – Paradise by Shabbir Unwala

  • 27 Nov '12
  • 4:00 am by Crew
Common Dining and Sitting Area – Heritage Machan
Welcome to your home in the forest. The Machan, located in Jambuine, two and a half hours away from Mumbai & one and a half from Pune.The Machan means tree house in Hindi. Each tree house is raised 35-45 feet above the ground level, directly over the forest. Tucked away from the hustle bustle of the city, inbetween a forest lies paradise. An 18 year old property first designed to be a home has grown to become the stunning eco resort. The architect and interior designer of this formidable project was Lonavala based, Shabbir Unwala. Having used previous experience from a similar project, Over Water, at the Khadakwasla Dam. In a free wheeling chat with Design Pataki, Shabbir Unwala, tells us all about The Machan

He says, “The local tribals would cut the tress. They would slash and burn the ground trees making it a barren land. The trees on the entire land had to be grown again.” There are two types of tree houses, The Heritage Machan & The Canopy Machan. The structures had to be built on steep slopes. Thats why you feel part of the forest in any of the machans. Shabbir, built the main Heritage Machan around a natural wild fig free. You can see the fig tree being the focal point in the pictures above and below. The resort being an eco resort is completely eco-friendly and sustainable. Made out of all recyclable materials, wood, glass and steel. RCC is not a recyclable material. NO tree, leaf has been cut during the entire building process. The property being on a slope, construction was not possible on site. Everything was made in Pune and assembled on site. Made with a nut and bolt structure. You could call it modular. 
View from outside – Heritage Machan
Nut and Bolt Structure
Dining and Sitting Area – Heritage Machan
Spiral Staircase to the upper & lower floors – Heritage Machan
Lower Bedroom – Heritage Machan
Upper Bedroom  – Heritage Machan
Reading Room – Heritage Machan

The Canopy Machan is like a floating tent. It is the smaller version of the heritage machan. Each Machan looks like a floating platform. The entrance is through a ramp which can be drawn by ropes for security once you settle in for the night. The skylight in the bathroom of the canopy machan is fabulous. There is no electricity in this area. Therefore they generate their own electricity through solar and wind energy.  

The interiors are simplistic yet warm. Most of the furniture has been ordered from Jaipur made out of sesam wood. Some of the light fixtures were from a ship. The rattan work furniture is from Indonesia.  Try Purple Turtles for lights for similar lights. Old rugs are scattered everywhere bring in more warmth to the place. Chatai / Wicker blinds cover all the windows. The antique switchboards are a nice touch. Takes us back many years. 
This is the perfect resort to go to for a weekend of peace and quiet. Shabbir Unwala has left no stone unturned in the architecture and interior design. A far cry away from your typical concrete hotel. The cityfolk needed a place like this. Home away from home. 
Bedroom – Canopy Machan
Bathroom with skylight – Canopy Machan

*Design Pataki in conversation with Shabbir Unwala.
Photos courtesy Shabbir Unwala.