This Glass-Encased Ahmedabad Villa Comes With Open Baths, Zen Gardens, And Rewarding Birding Experiences
- 18 Jan '23
- 6:02 pm by Beverly Pereira
Not far from Ahmedabad’s tranquil Thol Lake and Thol Bird Sanctuary is a home recently constructed with minimal intervention to the land. Designed by VPA Architects for a client with a passion for birding, the residence, a little over 5,600 sq ft in size, was built alongside an existing weekend home. At 6,000 square yards, the sprawling plot was once barren but is now enriched by scores of newly planted bird-friendly trees. It has propitiously become home to several species of beautiful birds endemic to the region including hornbills, kingfishers, woodpeckers, peacocks, parrots, ibis, and more.
Meandering down pathways through rich landscaped foliage and on bridges across water bodies in all shapes and sizes, one is never alone—thanks to both, birdsong and the meditative tinkle of water as a constant. The idea behind the name of the residence ‘Kalrav’ meaning ‘to chirp’ instantaneously becomes as clear as the day. The residence and its surrounds is a dwelling for humans as much as it is a habitat for birds and other creatures of the land.
Led by Ronak Patel and Khushbu Shah, the architecture team at the Ahmedabad-based VPA Architects harnessed the lay of the land to build from the ground up a glass-encased home nestled within its invigorating green environs. The east-facing glass façade opens out towards the lawns; while trees, waterbodies, a hanging deck, cable bridge, and even a swimming pool dot the expansive site.
The residence’s earthy façade was crafted from exposed concrete and lime plaster. Inside, a low-height pavilion opens out into an all-glass space flanked by a private and formal seating room. Fringed by water bodies, this glass box appears like a floating island. “Since there were many existing trees around, and the client is a nature lover, he came with a simple brief to build a glass house where he has no chance of missing any views of the greenery,” says Ronak, adding that constructing the home without cutting any of the trees proved to be a challenge.
Landscaping of the site was given immense importance—given the vastness of the plot, the sheer number of existing and newly planted trees, and the minimum footprint taken up by the home. Led by VPA’s Jinal Patel, the landscaping team comprising Khushbhu Shah opted to insert waterscapes into the heart of the design. “We created different levels to create a waterfall and so you can always hear the add calming sound of trickling water. The first three tiers use clean water with filtration facilities, and the bottom level has stagnant water which is a lily pond with a lot of aquatic plants and fishes,” explains Jinal who sourced the many stone sculptures that dot the landscape from Jain Handicrafts in the city. Overlooking the water bodies, a hanging deck crafted from Brazilian walnut wood sourced from Prato Living is the perfect place to unwind in the midst of nature.
The residence was designed around the existing trees. Further, the green landscape was created in such a way that it was transformed into a paradise for birds, says Jinal, adding that the sapping of hundreds of bird-friendly trees was proposed to create a forest using Miyawaki techniques. The Miyawaki technique refers to an urban afforestation method that attempts to turn a backyard into a forest.
Inside the home, a staircase is nestled within the meticulously landscaped indoors. Stone steps, earthy by design, were crafted in local dhangadhara stone to seamlessly merge with a teak wood and steel staircase. Views of the tropical foliage outside are uninterrupted in this central double-heighted stair shaft, which at once acts like a bridge between the outdoors and indoors. Private spaces including a bedroom and family room sit at one end of the ground level, while the kitchen, dining and utility areas find space on the other.
“Adding greenery indoors brings in a sense of freshness and complements the interiors and overall theme that we have conceptualised,” says Jinal, who worked closely with the architectural team at VPA. “We proposed the inclusion of flower creepers like sankrant vel, curtain creepers and bougainvillea in the indoor courtyards. As they keep growing, the beauty of the space also keeps growing.”
Upstairs, a glass-encased passage brings in invigorating views of the green landscape as far as the eye can see. It leads the way to private spaces including two master bedrooms that reflect and respect the rusticity and earth-friendly nature of the home. From outdoor lamps to statement pendant chandeliers inside, an emphasis was placed on lighting suited to each space with fixtures sourced from the Ahmedabad-based Interio Lighting.
The interior design team comprising Naiya Patel and Maitree Patel steered clear of any embellishments in both master bedrooms upstairs. Instead, these minimal but sleek bedrooms rely on a natural material palette comprising pigmented lime plaster in lieu of painted walls, wood, and stone flooring, all of which work in tandem to create an understated backdrop that allows for the verdant views to shine. In the bedrooms, the use of kota stone flooring sourced locally from Stone Gallery conforms to VPA Architect’s sustainable approach to design.
The master bedrooms are secured with an innovative roof design. At 1.5 feet high, these elevated roofs were constructed from steel topped by a concrete layer and further finished with tiles on the exterior. The interior of the roofs is clad with thermal insulation finished with timber to bring in a warm and earthy feeling. From the outside, the roof appears like a bird in flight, if one were to interpret it using a modern and abstract outlook. From the inside, the roof appears to float.
A notable inclusion in both masters is the stunning baths—open to the elements yet private enough, thanks to the use of bamboo screens. Custom bathtubs crafted from yellow Rajasthan stone and black stone respectively are the highlight of these private, open-to-sky spaces.
“The entire piece of stone is carved in such a way that it is made hollow from the inside with a smooth finish, while the semicircular tub is shaped on the exterior part. Since the house is very much connected to the outdoors, this space was created in such a way that one can have outdoor showers under the sky and stars as it is open from the top but screened from all sides such that privacy is maintained,” Ronak explains.
Kalrav Villa offers ample opportunity for the nature lover and is perfectly suited to the client whose only request was to stay connected to the magnificent surrounds. In using wooden louvers on the glass facade and by surrounding the home with maximum foliage and water bodies, the dwelling holds climatic response at the fore, making it a sustainable model at best.