Compiled by Savitha Hira
Photography: Sebastian Zachariah, Ira Gosalia, Photographix, Pinkish Shah; courtesy S+PS Architects
This home in a Navi Mumbai suburb centres around the idea of recycling and collage in several ways: from the very physical - like materials, energy, etc. to the intangible - like history, space and memories…
“Living in Mumbai, India, it is impossible to ignore the informal settlements in the city, and if looked at closely, there are many lessons to be learnt in frugality, adaptability, multi-tasking, resourcefulness and ingenuity. A visual language emerges that is of the found object, ad-hoc, eclectic, patched and collaged,” observes Ar. Pinkish Shah, principal of S+PS Architects.
In this project, he and his team attempt to apply some of these lessons without romanticizing or fetishising them. The resultant home – on a hillside in Belapur - plays with contrasts – old with new; traditional with contemporary; and rough with finished.
Conceptualized on the central courtyard typology, the 5600 sq. ft. inward-looking, three-level home plays host to a large four-generation family; only the court is actually raised a floor above the ground level and camouflages a large rainwater harvesting tank wrapped with rock that was removed from the hillside during excavation.
The front façade sets the tone for what lies within, with a “corner of windows” that recycles old windows and doors of demolished houses in the city. This becomes a major backdrop for the living room with an exposed concrete-faceted ceiling, countered by polished white marble with intricate brass inlay on the floor.
In the courtyard, an element of kitsch plays on in a ‘pipe wall’ installation, where metal pipe leftovers are pieced together like bamboo integrating structural columns, rainwater downtake pipes and a sculpture of spouts that is a delight for the senses during monsoons.
Whilst unconventional décor inclusions are sustained via coloured tile samples, a wall clad in cut-waste stone slivers; the play of masses and voids that accommodate a lap pool and opens the home to spectacular views of the skyline augments the intrigue.
Hundred-year-old columns from a dismantled house bring back memories, and nostalgia is nourished with a lightweight, steel and glass pavilion (with solar panels above) on the terrace level overlooking fabulous views down the hillside. Recycled materials like old textile blocks also find home here as does flooring of old Burma teak rafters and purlins, colonial furniture, fabric waste (chindi) along with novel applications of traditional elements and materials like carved wooden mouldings, bevelled mirrors, heritage cement tiles, and the like.
A language emerges that is both new but strangely familiar; and that makes us rethink notions of beauty that we take for granted around us.