It is certainly hard to visualise a warm, cheerful residence in metal. It is harder still to envisage a farmhouse which is customarily expected to host earthy materials that resonate with contextual sensibilities. A metal structure ensconced in glass is more associated with commercial spaces or hilly terrains where the topography is hostile, the uneven terrain as well as the spectacular valley view prompting more of glass and steel rather the earthy mud and bricks.
Yet, the weekend home designed by Architect Harsha Vardhan Tenkayala and his team of Design Forum, is structured in steel and enclosed in glass, but brings forth all the warmth and earthiness associated with its concept and contextual presence. Not mud, not bricks, not granite, not even concrete prevail in his sprawling 10,000 sq. ft residential project, but merely steel girders and glass that open the internal spaces on all sides to the expansive greens of the 3-acre plot.
The ensuing spaces are not cold and unwelcome, but on the contrary, extremely warm and homely, with a dramatic entry that houses a natural pond on one side and a thick forest of trees on the other, where the trees are planted on a gradation, the four strips of plantation having trees 25 ft. to 10 ft. in height. “The gradual tapering down of the height of the trees permits a clear visual of the whole expanse of greens from the interiors of the residence”, says Harsha.
The structure, shaped as an H, is bounded on all the sides by an eight-foot-wide and eight-foot-high open corridor that acts as a shield against the weather besides serving as a free flowing outdoor patio. Eight-foot gravel prevails as a setback for this patio, which not only accentuates the beauty of the ensuing greens but also acts as a deterrent for unwanted reptilian guests.
The entire structure has been kept at ground level, the residence expanding horizontally rather than vertically to house the desired internal spaces. Given the shape of the structure, the living and dining spaces are housed on one side, with the twin bedrooms structured on the opposite side.
Thus, two vertical spaces prevail in the free flowing open interiors, which are functionally connected by an attractive foyer that further opens on to a sunlit internal courtyard complete with a water body. The resulting shape permits the dining and formal living areas that feature on one side along with the family areas, to open on to this serene internal courtyard.
The dining and formal living spaces also open on to an external courtyard that houses a water body, ensuring that this continuous connect to water and greenery from either side of the living and dining spaces evokes a peaceful sojourn in the residence. It is not just the living, dining and sleeping quarters that afford a seamless connect with the exterior greens through the glass walls, but bathrooms too offer the same, where merely the blinds on the glass walls offer privacy.
Presence of wood
The cement hollow concrete block walls prevail merely in a segment of the kitchen area and in the wall segregating the bedroom and the bathroom. Presence of wood, not just in the form of a woody exterior, but in the interiors too is paramount to infuse warmth.
This is strongly recognised by Harsha and his team, making the flooring totally in recycled teak wood, laid in an arresting herringbone pattern. The cement-coloured vitrified tiled flooring in the patio complements this by tying in with the structural members as well as the expansive exterior landscape.
Given that the structure is erected using steel girders and enclosed with laminated 13.5mm performance glass, heat ingress into the interiors is an expected outcome. This scenario has been cleverly prevented by opting for the large patios and sloped shingle roof that not only lend a homely warm aura but also serve as a shield against the filtering heat.
While the sloped roof of the structure insulates against harsh weather besides enhancing the aesthetics, the 15-ft. height of the roof is cleverly spilt for massing, ending the lower segment of the wall at 8 ft., with hollow concrete block walls featuring above the 8-ft- glass wall. This breaking of the mass not only accentuates the external aesthetics of the building but also prevents the upper segment of the sloped shingle roof from being fully evident from the ground level.
“The materials used for construction are light weight, permitting the structure to blend effortlessly into the thick greens that wrap its landscape”, says Harsha. “The roof as well as the building is structured in such a manner that the entire shape of the roof or the building cannot be fully viewed from close quarters”, he adds.