In the suburb of Ahmedabad, India, rests The Foliage House, designed by VPA Architects, which stretches across a whopping 22,800 sqft. The area this land was located in was beautifully covered with mature trees like bamboo, cherry blossom, neem and mango trees. Not only did nature’s breath-taking artwork situate itself on the land, it was along the periphery as well.
Based off today’s common practice, the usual case is to allow concrete designs disrupt the natural look. However, this project was planned in the exact opposite direction –to preserve the nature surrounding the land. What made this house not like the other ones that have been designed was the fact that the house was split into two different masses: one with the kitchen, fining and puja, and the other with four bedrooms, a living room and a formal sitting room. This unique approach was specified by the client, and truly set a new standard for design requirements. The two parts of the house are connected through a passage that has a courtyard on one side, and a veranda on the other end.
As you make your way into this lovely site, you’ll notice an entrance courtyard with a screen on your right with a parking space on your left. Before you enter the house in a double height vestibule, the entrance courtyard is covered in a wooden cladded slab structure that signifies the house entry area. The formal sitting room, is a glass mass surrounded by water bodies and a landscaped garden. It’s basically placed in a position where you can be isolated from the rest of the house, giving you some much needed alone time.
A passage then connects you to the centre of the house – the double height living room – through a linear flight of stairs accompanied with a backdrop of exposed concrete walls. When walking further into the site, the master suite and a guest room with an attached wardrobe and toilet is placed at the ground floor. The back garden surrounded by large existing trees is attached to a private veranda that is also connected to the master bedroom, providing a perfect spot to relax and wind down. The number of unique spaces and privacy this house can provide is what makes it so special.
The double height living connects the entire house vertically and horizontally. When moving into the other direction from the master bedrooms, you can make your way to the kitchen and dining area via another passaged. This passage is embellished with a court yard and veranda extending into a landscape garden on both sides. As you travel into the second mass of the house, you can notice the open kitchen, dining and puja area. In order to maintain clear visibility and yet avoid distractions, the puja is located in a clear horizontal axis of the house. Before you walk up the stairs, you’ll undoubtedly notice how the kitchen stays connected to the other ancillary structures such as an outdoor kitchen, servant quarters, store area and wash yard. The dining area, however, shares a similar design concept to the formal living room, being located in a glass cube that has a lovely landscape view.
As you arrive on the first floor, you’ll be able to reach two different bedrooms designed specifically for the children if you follow the passage. The son’s bedroom was designed with a connected balcony that oversees the back garden, whereas the daughter was given a small and intimate area as she requested for more privacy. In order to receive natural sunlight throughout the day even while indoors, the bathrooms have their own respective courtyards. What truly makes this house stand out is in this interesting and innovative approach to seemingly normal things. The play in heights, cantilever slabs and play of material and colour is what makes the house unique in both massing and planning. The overall aesthetic of the house is elevated by utilising exposed concrete with texture paint and a bold choice of brick red and grey as accent colours, in order to contrast from its greener surrounding.
The innovative engagement of unique design elements does not stop at its exterior. The interior design is a perfect mixture of modern and contemporary, utilizing Kotah stones as flooring throughout the house. While the larger rooms were done in mirror finished grey kotah, the passages were done in multicoloured, multi sized and finishes kotah stone. This fun and quirky play in pattern seamlessly binds the housing designs together. In order to achieve a warm and welcoming ambience, a customized filament light fixture was placed in the centre of the drawing room, furbished with warm-toned furniture. As a red sculpture sits below to complement the simple metal plate staircases cladded with solid wood, this adds to the use of vibrant colours. The double height living room is then decorated with a cool teal lounge sofa and lilac lounge chairs. To balance out the bright quirky colours, the dining and kitchen area utilizes a more neutral colour palette.
The different material and colour palette for different areas of the house makes it the perfect amalgamation of modern and contemporary designs. The designers not only personalized the bedroom designs for the children, the furniture furbished were also specially customized for this project. Therefore, resulting in a house that has everything harmoniously connected to each other. A house with a personality like no other, diligently designed to take your breath away. A design with such intricacy is the embodiment of the best of both worlds: contemporary and modern, just the way the client wanted it.