Padival House by Anahata Studio

Fact File
Location: Karnataka
Size: 212 sq m
Principal Architects: Puneeth Hegde, and Mithila Manolkar
Photography by: Shamanth Patil Photography


Padival House by Anahata Studio is a contemporary rendition of the traditional South Indian courtyard home. A young couple and their two children, originally from Mangalore, a coastal city in South India, approached us to design their home. The brief was to build a clean, contemporary house. Padival House is a private dwelling located in the south of Belgaum, in a gridiron neighbourhood with the streets running north-south. The site is rectangular, west-facing, with an 80-foot major road. In Mangalore, the courtyard has always been an integral part of a traditional house. We chose to vividly reflect the memories associated with a traditional courtyard, adapting the vernacular typology to a house in an urban context. The programme is organised into spatial compartments around the courtyard based on the function they are designed to serve. Each of these compartments further evolves into primordial geometric masses. The idea was to create a more pure form of architecture—one stripped of its non-essentials, reduced only to its basic elements and the feelings that the space itself evokes.

“Inside and outside, earth and heaven converge in the enclosed garden. The building is, so to speak, erected out of the mass of the earth, with the garden a cavity in that mass. The boundless space of the sky penetrates the garden and absorbs it.”
Aben, R., & De Wit, S. (1999). The Enclosed Garden, 10-11. Rotterdam: 010

This verse was another reference point in the design. The entrance lobby leads to the courtyard on one side and the living space on the other. The living space, with a floor height of one and a half storeys, diminishes to a single-storey height as it flows into the courtyard, thus resulting in a library space on the first floor that looks into the courtyard on one side and the living space on the other. The transition from the living room to other private functions of the house is through the well-lit dining area. The river-finish tandoor flooring seamlessly connects the living and dining spaces to the courtyard. The altar is a space floating in the air. Externally, the mass deliberately disconnects from the living room wall, giving the impression of a floating cube sliding out from within. The reduced floor height and the clerestory window invoke a mystical feeling. Stairs from the altar lead to the library and the family spaces. The one-and-a-half-storey height of the living room leaves a clerestory window in the library, exhibiting a dialogue between the courtyard and the terrace of the living room. The walls of the private spaces around the courtyard are kept low, with glass continuing to touch the ceiling. Thus it flows into the bedrooms, blurring the boundaries while establishing a connection with the internal spaces of the house.

“The sun does not realize how wonderful it is until after a room is made.” – Louis Kahn.

Light percolates into the building through strategically placed fenestration, in some places touching the roof, allowing an unobstructed flow of view to the outside. Two major light wells, the courtyard and the skylight above the stairs in the family space display a subtle, perpetual play of light and shadow, creating a high sense of order and visual impression. Light as a building material is sculpted carefully to define spaces and their functionalities. As the sunlight changes throughout the day, the shadows make the space dynamic and ever-changing across all seasons. The perception of space varies depending on where one is standing about the light wells. The spatial strategy is designed to visually connect spaces to allow a sense of communication. The concrete ceiling is left exposed to add a sense of informality in contrast to the smooth white plastered walls. A flight of sunbathed stairs from the family room leads to the Barsati, which transitions into the living room terrace through a semi-open verandah. The Barsati also acts as a pantry to serve the terrace parties that the client usually hosts.

The interiors and furniture designs are heavily inspired by contemporary Indian artist SH Raza. His approach to colour, line, space, and light, as well as the geometries in his paintings, all reveal a deeper understanding of emotions. Concrete, white plaster, brass, wood, and natural stone inspire the material palette for the interiors. An abstraction of the painting Tanava on the floor using coloured stone adorns the living room. It rises into the third dimension with the floating pyramid stools and coffee table set in harmony. The shadows formed by the courtyard skylight empirically reinterpret the patterns of Raza paintings. The triangular bookshelf in the library indulges in an amicable conversation with the light each time the sun renders the wall behind. The painting, “White Crosses,” is sculpted in wood to form the wardrobes, adding warmth to the bedroom interiors. The house is an abstract composition of masses responding to the westward sun. The sharp shadows move as the day progresses, giving life to the façade. The compound wall is designed to resemble a piece of fabric, being very light and smooth, keeping the composition undisturbed. The house attempts to stand as a piece of art.