Robert Verrijt + Shefali BalwaniSize -
300 sq.m.Program -
With a stream running through the house, this retreat in Alibag is delicately woven into the landscape, alternately opening up and closing itself to the different characteristics of the site. Though seasonal, the streambed allows for an interesting landscape feature throughout the year. A multitude of medicinal and fruit bearing trees provide for an intimate ambiance and comfortable microclimate. A short walk along the stream before entering the house domain builds up a sense of anticipation.
The house consists of two parts: the day areas of the house such as the dining, kitchen, the living room and entrance verandah are separated from the master bedroom by a bridge that spans across the stream. Like an organism trying to make most use of its resources and surroundings, the house with its several limbs reaches out into the landscape making full use of the views within the site and dramatizes special moments: a beautiful tree or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains.
Since the owners are enthusiastic cooks, the kitchen is made the heart of the house, a large, inviting volume with a high ceiling. Around this centre, three 'wings' span across into the landscape and anchor the house into the location. The living room 'wing' is lifted of the ground to have a panoramic view of the mountain range in the distance. The guest room wing embraces an existing tree to create a courtyard and just peeks across the dining room to have a view over the length of the stream. The swimming pool is aligned along the stream acting as a substitute for it during the dry season, and as an extension of it during the monsoons. (Photography by Sebastian Zachariah)