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Friday, August 22, 2014

Stack House

Compiled by Pari Syal info courtesy the architects
Photography: Smruti Kamat, Lester Rozario; courtesy the architects

Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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Amidst a dearth of green spaces, Kamat & Rozario Architecture designs a home that revolves around its most climatically pleasant north-east corner - a small urban garden.

The small 1200 sq. ft. site was densely built up on all sides with no view and very little scope to allow light and ventilation.  Once the architects convinced the home owner ‘to give up a small portion of his property in the form of a green pocket’, making full use of the available build-able plot area was a smooth operation. 

Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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Everything is oriented around the urban garden. The house itself is stacked on the remaining site in the form of a tall block overlooking this other open half. Designed for a family of 5 - a young couple, elderly parents and a toddler, the ground floor has a living room, which opens out into the garden. 

Sitting above the ground floor, is a single volume spanning two floors that ties together all the remaining spaces - and more importantly, becomes the heart of the house. The family room, kitchen, dining, and parent’s bedroom are all compactly accommodated on lower level of this volume; while the upper level contains a small library space and two more bedrooms. The slim stair, stealthily carved along its length ties together all the levels of this compact home.

Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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Efficient zoning of activities responding to climatic conditions and views, ensure natural light, cross ventilation and passive cooling throughout the house. The south-west corner accommodates the main staircase block; thereby acting as a heat buffer for the living spaces. Bathrooms are stacked against the front exposed southern wall to shield the bedrooms.

Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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The built mass of the bedroom block on the first and second floors provides shade in the courtyard. RCC construction has been limited to the ground floor alone. This acts as a pedestal over which a block of two floors of wall-over-wall construction rests. The house is constructed using compressed mud blocks. These, as against regular bricks, are an alternative eco-friendly construction material made by compressing and curing the earth excavated on site itself along with a small quantity of cement and sand.

Stack House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture
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External surfaces and all internal wall surfaces that contain essential structural elements such as lintels, beams, etc. are mud plastered. This has not only reduced the time taken to painstakingly define the concrete members but has also created an interesting composition of stark white plastered walls against a deep red mud block wall. The boundary wall defining the green pocket had to be higher than usual for privacy - leading to a shortage of mud blocks. This has called for a fun exercise of creatively stitching together burnt bricks with the remaining mud blocks to craft a sculptural surface that encircles the urban garden.

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