Minimalism, visual cohesion, free flowing spaces, abundant natural light… it’s all showcased in this residence-cum-studio. A look by Nandhini Sundar

It is a common perception that small sites come with small spaces; that big ideas in such spaces will necessarily have to be shelved. That, any attempt to pack in more will result in a crammed vertical expanse. But how about a 1,700 sq. ft residence and a 1,400 sq. ft office, all packed into a tight 1,200 sq. ft site where the design ensures the spaces are not locked in akin to a match box but are functional, free flowing, with the feeling of an expanse in the interiors? Seems impossible?

Perhaps not. Certainly not if the design of the residence-cum- studio by Architects Pramod Jaiswal and Divya Ethirajan of BetweenSpaces is taken as a case in point. The 3.100 sq. ft building has three floors, ground and first as the residence, with the studio featuring on the second and third floors, yet, the building is so ingeniously structured as to negate the vertical expanse which would otherwise have been the natural outcome.

Interestingly, the western side of the site has an adjacent building that sits on the compound wall, making the openings for the structure possible only on the remaining three sides. Given the uninterrupted view of a tree-lined street in front of the building, the spatial planning is done to garner the maximum advantage from this. With the accent laid on abundant natural light and ventilation, the dining space in the three-bedroom residence comes with a double height ceiling that accommodates a clear storey window.

Demarcating walls invariably crowd a room besides cutting connectivity as well as free flow of natural light and ventilation. This is especially so in a tight site. Recognising this, not only is the living area structured to connect to the double height clear storey window in the dining space, but two of the three bedrooms too open on to this skylight space. Moveable shutters enclose the two bedrooms featuring in the twin levels, permitting the shutters when desired to be pushed to one side to reveal a totally free flowing expanse in the interiors.

Perforated metal

Twenty-foot-wide sliding aluminium glazed windows with a protective layer of perforated sheet shutter panels bring abundant natural light and ventilation into the master bedroom situated on the second level of the residence. “The perforated metal not only provides the required safety that a grill frame would provide, but also serves as an interesting yet minimalist façade for the entire building while borrowing the greenery of the streets into the interiors”, says Jaiswal.

Given that the perforated sheet shutter panels extend to the architects’ studio above, this minimalist façade breaks the unattractive visual vertical expanse which would have prevailed in its absence. The minimalist free flowing interiors also ensure the visual connectivity between the two levels of the residence is kept intact even as the demarcating moveable shutters in the twin bedrooms offer privacy when required. The furniture units opted also serve as storage spaces as well as partitions, thus saving space while adding an element of novelty to the interior décor.

The studio, featuring on the second and third floors of the building, reveals similar unhindered free flowing expanse of space. The staggered split levels of the spaces along with the double height lobby, ensures there is visual connectivity between the two levels just as in the residence. Abundant natural light filters into the spaces through the perforated metal sheet that forms the façade of the building.

The design and material palette has been kept deliberately simple, coming in a combination of earthy and rustic tones, complementing the borrowed greenery from the streetscape through the perforated metal façade. Just as in the residence, the spaces are not defined by walls but through visually porous demarcating units that double up as storage units and book shelves. Given the space constraint and the need to leave as much open space as possible to prevent overcrowding, even the space under the stairs has been deftly used as a library.

The material palette again leans towards minimalism, where the texture of the materials may be contradicting, yet, the clever design exhibiting visual cohesion. For instance, the use of Sal wood contrasts and accentuates the light grained finger jointed rubber wood planks. The exposed bricks contrast with the rustic concrete finish, giving a unique character to the studio.

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