Diya by SPASM Design Architects has been crafted as an organic spatial experience, punctuated by a lower volume that meanders around the 248 trees that were present on site. Hand dug foundations (to ensure preservation of the roots) have been meticulously positioned to create vistas and open to sky courtyards. A palatial entrance foyer with a sculpturally framed Neem tree, vertical pivoting wooden louvers, top hung windows with mesh inserts and a permeable corten facade with jaali detailing are contextual and aesthetically discerning design interventions. Bespoke furnishing in salvaged wood and brass accents have been fashioned by the Studio as well, and are complemented by curated artworks, completing the ensemble of a residence that revels in exquisite craftsmanship and understated luxury. Scroll down to read the architects’ insights.
Ahmedabad is predominantly dry through the year, though it does rain occasionally during monsoon months, from late June to August. The clients, a young couple with a nine year old daughter and their respective parents, contacted us to design a family home.
Pre-existing trees, and a large lawn, prompted the exact positioning of the built form. The lower level meanders around trees, retaining all 284 of those originally on site. Several foundations were carefully positioned and dug by hand to ensure preservation of the roots, with the treescape facilitating specific vistas and open to sky courtyards. The result is a formless labyrinth of interconnected spaces.
The entrance is marked by a 16 meter column free-span canopy, which in turn creates a 2.4 meter high entry space, bound by vertical pivoting wooden louvers. This filter-like space enables a perennial breeze to freely flow through to the main courtyard beyond, and sculpturally frames an existing Neem tree, highlighting the powerful presence of nature throughout the house.
The ground level is marked by an organic spatial plan, bound by massive rammed earth walls with high thermal mass, and courtyards, vertical pivoting wooden louvers, and top hung windows with mesh inserts that keeps out mosquitoes and allows breezes/breathing. Aided by giant sliding glass walls, which retract into pockets, the living and dining spaces seamlessly connect with the surrounding verdant environment. Shade, stemming from the upper cantilevering storey, brings respite and is a welcoming facet in this tropical region.
Apart from these heat mitigating measures, sprinklers activate on timers to humidify the courts which are all planted with Ferns, Monsteras, Allocasias, Philodendrons, Rafis palms, Terminalias and other plant species.
The upper storey is adorned with a skin of Corten—single elements of 0.5 meters x 5.5 meter high panels which hang off the internal structure, creating a permeable façade. This facilitates the absorption of heat from the sun and release upward air circulation behind, hence reducing heat gain of the inner structure and interior spaces.
The corners of the volume feature perforated Jaali work in tree and branch motifs, a reference to the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque Jaali, an architectural wonder of Ahmedabad. These spaces are adorned with dappled, patterned light and shade, and along with the sliding screens on the principal plane of the façade, cool the breeze through the Venturi Effect.
The forthcoming nature of the clients, led to the design of an entirely bespoke series of furniture and objects specifically for their home. These were all designed in 20mm x 20mm brass sections and salvaged wood. Mirrors, towel racks, book shelves, vanities, TV stands, occasional tables, nest of trays, were all part of the ensemble.
The main staircase leading to the upper level is an assemblage of thick wood, akin to a stack in a drying yard, and the stair rail is crafted out of rosewood as a precious object with bent corners in cast brass, pronouncing an elegant luxury along with a sense of timelessness. The expertise of craftsmanship throughout the project is exquisite, while the intriguing art collection has been gifted by the clients’ friends and family over the years.