An Ethereal Beauty

Facade is a way of communication between the exterior and interior of a building. It’s a presentation canvas that displays the artistic composition of form and style that lay out a set of riddles for the visitor into guessing the interior magic of architecture.

The foliage of trees, the bustling of leaves swaying with the slightest breeze, the serenity of water when blended with architecture form the source of joy for the living.

The solitary sign of the omnipotent existence of nature, the rich green canopy of the surviving Champa tree stands in stark contrast to the simple and austere appearance of the pure pristine facade of the dwelling called HouSkinS.

Conceptualized as a minimal, light and humane interface, this residence weaves a multilayered protective shell for the family to enhance their sense of belonging and togetherness, invigorating a spatial experience for the dwellers as well as the passerby.

The metaphor of human skin as a thin layering of tissue forming the natural cover of the body of an individual, inherent with the ability to shield yet remain in contact with the external world was the genesis of design thought.

Sharp architectural elements that strike bold angles along with luscious curves define the characteristic persona of this house. The juxtaposition of volumes, as two curved metal forms enclosing the cuboidal concrete and glass clarifies the internal experience.

The team of designers at Plan Loci knits an intangible web with the tangible accentuating the experience with moments of pause. The champa tree transcends their ideologies with reverence and soulful fragrance emanating from its flowers, inviting an elegant aura into the voluminous spaces.

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The temple appears to stay afloat visually tying the various levels within the dwelling. The elements such as the tree, the core and the temple bind the whole structure in three design strategies that explore their relationship defining the timeless existence of nature and art.

The curved form displaces space as it brings in desirable natural light, while it fades away reaching out to the sky, gently transforming into ethereal. The first strategy was to blissfully connect along the sacred axis.

The north-south forms the prime web linking the tree, the family interaction center and the spiritual mandir at the far end of the site. This further generates the way of organizing the other spaces around. The second strategy was conceived to vertically segregate the zones.

The ground floor is entirely dedicated to public interface comprising large gathering hall with spacious covered verandah surrounding a water body and edge plantation that lends a calming quality, along with an office space neatly tied into the northeast side of the house.

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Solid piers and integrated lighting illuminate this level attributing to it an ephemeral sense during the night. The heaviness of the structure dissipates in this luminosity concluding the experience with a streak of water lined with palm trees and a shallow pool, where inclined columns dive into these silent quarters culminating the north-south sacred axis.

The semi public first floor opens to cosy living cum dining that abuts the kitchen facing the east with fine luxurious bedrooms along the two ends. The living space diagonally grows into the mandir slashed along the north axis, accessed by a bridge.

The distinctive form of the temple adds a spiritual quotient to whole house. The fully private second floor encompasses spacious bedrooms that are conjoined by a pantry.

The third design strategy was to follow a system of paths that allow for preferred directions of movement throughout the house. The integrated connection, three paths braided with the direct entry path, the diagonal line on the first floor to the contemplative space and parallel bond in the private spaces.

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The perpendicular staircase path links all these together in unison, as one ascends to the upper levels. Externally the staircase volume curves and vanishes into the realms of the unknown yet fundamentally serving as a bracket for the known and the familiar within.

The landscape design scheme celebrates and magnifies the only feature, the champa tree by repeating it within the balconies of upper levels thus forming a pattern of greens integrated with the subtle facade.

The building’s skin is specially designed in layers allowing appropriate response to the climate. Since the plot is southwest facing, an environmentally responding secondary skin aligns and veils the front built form.

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The entire skin is designed to be breathable having an air gap between a solid inner and a louvered outer layer. Glass is tactfully placed in the interiors, either in the recesses of forms, generously on the north face and shaded by perforated screens in the southwest.

The white louvered outer skin lends itself to form the white austere immaculate appearance exuding stillness and serenity. The building that seemed solid in the day takes on a renewed dimension by night, transmuting into a stunning sheer of sublime existence.

Fact File

  • Project Title: HouSkinS
  • Location: Ghaziabad, India
  • Practice: Plan Loci
  • Typology: Residence
  • Built-up Area : 6000 sq.ft
  • Year: 2018
  • Design Team: Ar. Gauri S Gandhi, Ar. Vikas Gandhi

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