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Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to have someone just completely understand what you want without even having to say very much? This was the client-architect relationship shared between the Guptas – a young family of four – and Principal Architect Thakur Udayveer Singh of Space Race Architects. Says Rajesh Gupta, “As a family friend, there was already a history with Udayveer. I was familiar with his work, but what I really connected with was his young, energetic and creative personality. It was what I wanted for my home.”
In a peaceful neighbourhood of Jalandhar, where one sees row after row of regular white facades, there exists a creative anomaly. A villa with exposed brick and Gwalior stone exterior façade and dark, sloping, cross-gabled roof with cantilevered projections. Udayveer had only a few instructions from the family as his starting point. “Mr Gupta wanted a palatial space that was creative, well-lit and well-ventilated. But most importantly, he wanted sloping roofs,” he explains.
Rustic Meets Modern
Through the main gate, what unfolds are elements like expansive floor-to-ceiling glass walls, classic columns, a neat lawn and a bamboo screen that shields the service areas. Says Udayveer, “Instead of using granite for the front and rear porches, I used exposed bricks that add a stark geometry to the visual.” He added as many glazed glass walls within and on the exterior of the home to visually connect spaces with each other and the outdoors without compromising on privacy. The main door of the house is also quite interesting, connecting the visitor with the family even before they enter the home. “There are names of the family members with fun quotes about each along with a few religious mantras,” says Udayveer.
The layout of the ground floor is such that all the public areas are visually connected. As you enter the home, the central puja room steals the show. To the left is the formal living area that looks out over the front lawn. To the right are the open plan kitchen and lounge area. In front is the dining room which leads to the back porch. Subtly tucked away in different corners are a guest bedroom done up in muted shades and a second, private kitchen.
When weather permits, the family prefers to have their meals on the back porch. Pale green curlicue wrought iron furniture enhances a herringbone-patterned brick porch and rough stone wall cladding. Udayveer added another sensory layer in the corner with a Balinese-inspired Buddha water-feature. “This space is well connected to both the kitchen for easy access and the television lounge,” he explains. “Since it is at the rear of the home, it is secluded and private. If we had crafted this space at the front, they would have never been able to enjoy it in the same way.”
With so many interesting features, it might be difficult for one to stand out. However, there is a clear winner on the ground floor – the central, ‘floating’ puja room. Says Rajesh, “I had seen something similar at a friend’s house in Kerala and I loved the idea of a ‘floating’ puja room.” This area was inspired by traditional Indian architecture where one used to have a central open courtyard. Explains Udayveer, “In this case, we have enclosed the puja room in glass which is open to the diffused light filtering in from the skylight on the top floor as well as being illuminated by a grand chandelier. The flowing water features within the glass enclosure also brings out a calming, meditative feel.”
Mastering The Private Spaces
While on the ground floor, Udayveer used laminate wood flooring, the first floor is entirely carpeted. The large master bedroom is defined by soothing beige tones. Udayveer elevated the colour scheme by using textured paint on walls. A massive bed with a tufted headboard sits against a wall displaying handmade Nakashi mouldings – a traditional Indian art form. Tucked away is a walk-in wardrobe that leads to a dramatic black-and-white bathroom.
To design a bedroom for two young boys with different tastes Udayveer divided the space into two zones, each with a distinct personality. One area features a black-and-white superhero-themed feature wall against which stands a leather bed. Walk through the arches that connects the two areas, and you’ll find yourself in a world of bright colours. This partition wall here features sharpened colour pencils from the floor up to the ceiling. Simple white bunk beds are tucked into one corner while the opposite side is designed to be a multipurpose play area. The architect has decorated the areas above the Gothic-inspired pointed arches with colour pencil shavings pressed between glass, visible from both sides.
Beating The Heat
The 8400-square-foot home needed to be sheltered from the heat while still being bright and airy. “This is a south-facing home which tends to get a lot of direct sunlight,” Udayveer explains, “so we had to use materials and architectural features to passively cool the home. When it rains or they sprinkle water on the exterior brick flooring, it helps in keeping the heat away.” Another technique he incorporated into the design was cantilevered projections to lessen the amount of direct sunlight that enters the home. When eventually the creepers wind their way down from the first floor, the curtain of green will further shield the home. Flowing water features, both in the central floating puja room and the secluded garden in the rear are additional techniques he used to reduce the temperature.
For the finishing touches, Udayveer focused on small yet impactful details. A date palm tree planted on the ground floor emerges from a cut-out in the first-floor deck and can be seen from the bedroom balconies as well as the first-floor landing. The bedrooms display traditional Indian metal art which highlights the walls and the ceiling. “I wanted to use a traditional lehenga with hand-embroidered gold work in some way. In the master bedroom, parts of the lehenga were used to frame the couple’s wedding portrait. I also separately framed the latkans for the guest room; adding memories to the home,” says Udayveer.
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