By Udita Chaturvedi
Photography: Courtesy, Ar. Rajeev Agarwal
Read Time: 2 mins
Inspired by Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut, which is known for its perfect proportions and simplicity, this farmhouse is a strictly orthogonal design by Ar. Rajeev Agarwal…
Not far from the historic town of Neemrana, midway between Delhi and Jaipur, is a stone masonry structure that is designed as a modern farmhouse, spread across a three-acre farm land on the foothills of the Aravali Range.
The design is a synthesis of five key elements: site context; climatic response; indoor-outdoor connection; prevalent material and construction technology; and lightness of structure, where each of the elements are met with great precision, creative design ideas and open planning.
Keeping it rugged and contextual, the 50-mm thick and 2-metres long roof is made from locally available sandstone. The in-situ concrete floor is laid using ‘white sand’ with high silica content from a nearby quarry. Thick wooden planks comprise the ceiling and walls are largely left bare; with an almost minimalistic approach towards furniture. Meanwhile, steel rods and iron fittings are left exposed with PU coated red oxide; whose indentations and glimpses between stones in the wall adds to the rugged feel of the home.
Ar. Rajeev Agarwal re-images Johnson’s rectangle and expands it to include a “floating” roof or overhangs - atop slim steel columns - to protect the glass from the harsh summer sun of Rajasthan. This way, the indoor space extends and connects to the outside landscape.
Glass sliding panels can be slid open to transform the structure into an airy verandah. The structure of the house is sunk by two feet. Thus, the sliding panels start at two-feet of the sill level (when viewed from inside) and at floor level (when viewed from the outside). This slight sinking of the house, coupled with thick masonry walls, increases the thermal mass of the structure, making it more compatible with the dry hot climate. Further, use of pre-fabricated steel construction provides the desired lightness to the home.
Solar PV cells and a solar hot water panel housed on the roof capture the naturally available resource and meet the requirements of desert winters, while water-cooled air is pumped into the interior via a locally fabricated desert cooler. Additionally, split bamboo chicks are hooked along the periphery and internally as well, and can be pulled down for shade; transforming the verandah space into an insulated buffer, when needed.
The entire structure adopts a heritage feel from the outside, courtesy the stone masonry amid natural green surrounding.