Gairola House had to expore the fact that in most Indian cities, the typical urban multifamily residence or apartment stack evolves from a semi detached single family home built on a suburban or peri-urban plot. This evolution occurs with the inevitable agglomeration of such plotted developments, both planned and unplanned, within the urban sprawl. As the edge of the city is pushed further and further outward and urban connectivities improve, the perceived distance of these developments from urban hubs reduces. The subsequent increase in rental values leads to the residence splitting into multiple rental units.
As a suburban single family residence, the design of such residences usually follows a typology of the introverted courtyard home that prioritises high levels of privacy and maximisation of covered floor plate. With each plot functioning as a fortified unit of the urban fabric, social rapports with neighbours are restricted to conversations across the shared boundary walls. This typology usually evolves into a two or three decker apartment stack that have similar or identical floor plans with a common access staircase. The role that the staircase, courtyard and setbacks can now play as shared community spaces is frequently neglected.
Our client, based outside the city, wished to develop this plot purely for the rental market. Our design investigates the possibility of creating an extroverted multiple residence apartment stack which exploits the external volumes as shared resources (for light and ventilation) that encourage a vibrant, socially connected, urbane lifestyle while still fulfilling the need for privacy and individuality.
In order to maximise rental options the stack was conceptualised as a 4 bedroom duplex, a 2 Bedroom simplex single floor unit and a 1 Bedroom rooftop apartment. This helped to cater to the typical tenant base of nuclear families, young couples and single professionals or students.
Social Connectivities and Individuality
As the floor plans of the residences are not identical the shared courtyard and front setback are no longer simple cuboid volumes but are multi-level sociopetal spaces.
The volume of the front setback is split into multiple spatial clusters with increased interconnectivities through a manipulation of enclosed and open volumes. The open staircase combines with a terraced central courtyard to become community space with shared territoriality. Care has been taken to ensure that the increased visual connectivity is restricted to the more public spaces of the apartments. The sheltered sunken court, cantilevered verandah and roof top terrace garden provide each apartment its own private outdoor space. Each apartment has been designed to be a unique home but one that encourages a socially vibrant lifestyle.
Material and Foliage
The stairwell is designed to be a shared community vertical garden planted with potted herbs, flowering plants and aromatic creepers. A single, fragrant Champaka tree (Magnolia champaca) is planted in courtyard and the terrace is landscaped with planters and a lawn of grass.
The animated play in volumes and voids is further fleshed out with the juxtaposition of materials and textures. Surface cladding patterns are detailed to respond to the introduction of voids and fenestrations.
Photos: Asim Waqi
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