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The geometric Drift House on Little Much Farm created by Shonan Purie Trehan + Language.Architecture.Body(LAB) as a lakeside escape

By • Jul 1, 2019

In the heart of Nandivali, India, a plot of land that has been dubbed the Little Much Farm provides view to a new housing retreat by Shonan Purie Trehan + Language.Architecture.Body(LAB) that are nothing short of breathtaking. The house itself, named Drift House for the way its angles resemble the edges of driftwood washed onto a beach, overlooks a lovely lake.

The prime purpose of this stunning family villa, right from the very outset, was always relaxation. The building sits atop a small, remote hillside plot that overlooks Mulshi and its rolling Sahyadri Hills, as well as the lake that sits at the base of them. When the owners approached the creative team, they stated that they were looking for a place where their family might retreat to reconnect with friends and benefit from engaging with the countryside surrounding Bombay, where they’re from.

The house, interesting right from the first time you one lays eyes on it, was built specifically to be laid out like a series of spaces where things will happen. Each room is created with purpose, layered over and connected with rooms that are different but related, and designed to give family and friends to find a good, comfortable space to do whatever it is they please on their holiday.

The different floors and angles of the rooms also give each one a different view of the stunning natural area surrounding the house. No two windows will give you precisely the same perspective of the beautiful, nearly panoramic views afforded by the hilltop location.

The way the sections of the house are situated is also a method of protection against the kind of harsh weather found only in hills closely situated to water. The design strategy of the roof provides shelter from harsh suns in the summer and monsoon rains in the wet seasons. The way the rooms and sections overlap forms strong enclosures in all the right places to end off winds.

One of these enclosures has been purposely allotted as something practical and interesting, rather than just being a waste of space between volumes of the house. This is where designers chose to build a covered monsoon bridge, giving visitors a way to get from volumes of the house that aren’t connected anywhere else within the house without getting wet.

The materiality of the house is important as well. The roof, which appears from a distance to float above the various interior and exterior spaces, is made from mild steel dia-grid. It was shaped and installed by a ship building fabrication team right there on site. The various planes of the roof are held up by exposed concrete columns, which is part of what gives the sections that particular drifting effect. They are positioned intentionally to provide shade to certain indoor and outdoor spaces as part of passive heating and cooling systems throughout the well ventilated house. These materials also look natural enough to interrupt the natural feeling of the surrounding plot as little as possible!

At its based, the house is built starting with three distinct blocks in a way that minimizes the number of retaining walls. These are connected and have free flowing space but still feel quite individual. In the middle block, you’ll find a double height volume that connects to the upper floor of the block to its west and the lower floor of the block to its east. Angles are a great thing!

This middle space where the three blocks all connect and overlap on one level is where the social and bonding spaces of the house are located. A bit of blending between inner and outer spaces even happens here where part of the middle space turns into a deck that connects to the outside ground on the hillside of one block. Here, there is a garden, a pool, and a ramp leading straight to these leisure spaces from the entryway for visitors who want to meet you right there at the poolside rather than traipsing through the whole house.

Continuing the quite natural materiality, the outside spaces of the house and the building’s facade walls are made in things that all bear a calming silver grey. These are primarily a mixture of different slabs of slate finished in different ways; raw, rough cut, and polished. Keeping the outer (and also much of the inner) colour schemes neutral like this lets the shapes and angles included in the house stand out without the eye getting distracted from their unique properties.

Like the outside, the interior spaces are practical in layout but still with a sense of playfulness. After all, how could a house that has a polished timber slide connecting the first floor and the social space on the ground floor not be a lot of fun to stay in? Even just moving from room to room in his dwelling is a good time.

There are plenty of other elements dotted around the house that are intended to bring joy to those who stay there. For example, there are cheerful quotes engraved in the concrete slabs that hang above the beds in the guest rooms, designed to start everyone’s day off just right. Laser etched art throughout the home’s furnishings, ceramic lil pads built into the deck’s floor, and a sunset set in the swimming pool are just a few more ways that designers aimed to give the owners the best possible experience of modern relaxation by the lake.

Photos by Sebastian Zacharia

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