A Box Paradox

The contemporary design wave had hit our shores ages ago, yet there are very few architects or designers who embrace the underlying principles of modernism in its true essence.

A blind mimicry of ‘box’ designs do not stand worthy of earning the tag of a contemporary architectural building. The unending will to innovate, iterate and adapt to the changing macro and micro conditions is inevitably critical.

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The grey-cells behind WARP’s design team, strive to bring about just that as is evident from its plethora of projects- this residence the ‘Casa Cesta’ being no exception.

Nestled away in a quaint little residential neighbourhood in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, this villa aims to create a new language of built space among the evenly spaced, rigid volumes that surround it.

Envisaged for a client that is keen on owning an abode that essayed a sense of simplicity yet stood out as a built expression.

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The plot being part of a gated community deliberated the need to incorporate architectural elements that go in tandem with the other buildings without compromising on its characteristic form.

Moreover, the presence of an active streetscape opened up the need for a dynamic approach that facilitated for healthy interaction with the neighbours.

The entire massing of the living spaces were thus pushed back from the street, the volumes inside scooped out and further recessions were punched into the primary facades to create an interesting play of solids and voids.

The articulation of two distinctively different masses is quite evident with the open lower level interspersed with light wooden slats seamlessly blend in with the context around while the bold and the heavy upper level frames the entire volume.

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The duality in form though is not brought about only for an accentuated aesthetic appeal, but rather translates into a functional attribute by delineating the diminishing degree of public access as one moves higher up. A quintessential testimony to Louis Sullivan’s words – ‘Form follows Function’.

The exterior white walls with its red recesses transcend onto greys and blues in varied hues as you step inside. The massive volume as perceived on the northern face presents itself as an equally enormous double heighted living room.

Full height openings flood the living volumes with natural light to invoke an overall sense of serenity in the space.

The pooja room breaks away from the central core and punctuates the bold language of the exterior with elegant wooden furnishings that shimmer in the warm lighting provided, invoking a divine aura overall.

The internal circulation is through a conventional free standing metal staircase finished with wooden treads, sufficiently showered with light that trickles down through a retractable skylight.

The transition from a cool colour palette of the primary living spaces to that of the bedrooms that have dashes of vibrancy inconspicuously essay a shift in the design dynamics of the space.

Brown beige and white with subtle highlights of warm colours evoke a cozy ambience that isn’t empowering but rather complement the overall ambience.

These bedrooms are housed on the first and second floors with two on each. The residence has multi level balconies, terraces and spill-outs, aimed at providing the much needed break from the snug spaces inside.

The second and top-most terrace floor being enclosed within the massive white box, have very minimal fenestrations.

This opaque blocking thus facilitates the provision of providing an acoustically sound home theatre room that ideally functions without seepage of natural light inside, thereby justifying the blank façade treatment.

The terrace floor is designed as an informal gathering space that can host small family gatherings. Contrary to usual sights of a half height parapet, the peripheral walls run high above eye level, opening up the roof plane as the only source of connect to the outside world.

This offers privacy and also accentuates the tendency to gaze at the sweeping starry skies.

The Casa Cesta thus stays true to its design philosophies and use of contemporary architectural principles. Seemingly a rigid solid box that hovers above and envelops a structure, but in reality the sheath being an integral design element defined as a direct reciprocal of the functions addressed inside.

A showcase of how ‘box’ designs doesn’t necessarily mean shutting out, but rather open up in novel ways — a true testament of the ‘box paradox’.

Fact File

  • Project: Casa Cesta
  • Location: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
  • Architects: WARP
  • Design team: Pradeep Arumugam, Shanil Riyaz, Balashanmugam, Monisha, Shrinath
  • Project Area: 7450 sq.ft

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