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Kumar Moorthy & Associates

New Delhi, Delhi, India-110070

G Farmhouse, Residential-Farmhouses

A suburban retreat set in 2.5 acres of land in the outskirts of New Delhi, this home combines nostalgia for fast disappearing sprawling traditional family homes with a modern ecological sensibility.  It provides the residents a spatially rich & visually arresting setting for their relatively secluded & book oriented lifestyle and a home for their possessions collected over a lifetime during working sojourns in varied countries across the globe.

The owners are a couple engaged in literary & non profit activities : he runs an NGO working to bring modern medicine via modern communication methods to the far reaches of Bihar while she writes & researches extensively on developmental matters. Having lived in and worked with NGOs in the Philippines, US and Africa for many years during which they hankered to return to familiar surroundings in as well as to bring their skills back to development issues of India, they were lucky enough to be able to purchase this rather low lying piece of agricultural land just South of Delhi at a low ebb in Delhi’s price cycles. With tastes quite far removed from the flashy farm houses cropping up in Delhi’s hinterlands they envisaged in their mind’s eye a quiet unassuming refuge in the midst of greenery and a place to try out initiatives in organic farming and sustainable living.

Designed in an idiom evoking rural homes from the culturally & architecturally distinct region of South India it reflects the owner couple’s cultural roots. Though translocated from the warm coastal & wet region of Kerala to the hot temperate climate of Delhi -A careful selection of apt components of that idiom in the form of lofty internal volumes under pitched tiled roofs, deep surrounding verandahs as shading devices, courtyard centric planning to reinforce the Stack effect of cooling, the presence of numerous water bodies to cool prevalent breezes and other design interventions like  plan orientation towards desirable sun & breeze directions  and massing to help mutual shading all help to adapt the idiom to another climatic zone.

Energy saving in the form of the above passive cooling devices & design form is furthered by ample yet sun protected openings & cross ventilation to maximize daylight & natural cooling to reduce the need for electricity.

Ecological interventions include water recycling, rain water harvesting, use of solar energy for water heating & the use of local as well as recycled materials in the house over & above the organic farm that occupies the rest of the property.

The house is designed around a multiplicity of lushly planted courtyards, the differing treatment of each courtyard helping to imbue the progression through the house with different experiences at each pause while planning on an emphatic axial corridor / verandah  helps pull the focus back from time to time to the main gardens which have been kept behind the house for the sake of privacy as well as to face morning & winter sun. Occasional interventions like antique doors, stone sculpture and other artefacts further energize the progression.

The main  entry to the house is via an entry court featuring lily pools. Once the front door is flung open the vista stretches away straight till the far main gardens. The entry foyer leads into the main courtyard surrounded by a colonnade of renewable coconut wood columns sourced from Kerala. One side of the colonnaded verandah stretches away to a secluded guest room for the couple’s frequent visiting friends & colleagues, the other flanks the vast barn like main living space of the home. Combining the seating, dining & an open kitchen ( the couple are enthusiastic foodies & cooks) this space is the heart of the house. Lofty volumes under the timber roof made of the same coconut wood provide an exciting setting to everyday living and entertaining alike. A gleaming cuddapah stone floor, rough wood bar, an antique Naga mortar table assuming a new avatar as a dining table and the couple’s collection of art & artefacts further enliven the space. On two sides of the living room deep  shaded verandahs connect through expansive openings to the garden past intervening lily pools.

A central lobby adjoining the living room separates these public areas of the house from the private ones. A staircase leads up to their daughters room overlooking the central study / lounge’s double height volume. The study / lounge is where the owners work, study and read and is thus another core day time area and opens onto the couple’s two bedrooms. Each bedroom reflects the occupants personality and opens further onto private verandahs & decks . All the bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms with each having an adjoining bathroom courtyard so that the feel of a garden home is not lost for an instant. The daughters room upstairs opens onto a terrace deck with stairs leading down directly to the garden.

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