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Infinity House wows with valley views

by Suzanna Miao on Apr 20, 2018 in Architecture , Top Story
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Perched on a steep slope in the hill station of Khandala in western India, Infinity House was designed to make the most of the stupendous views across the landscape

Photographer: Prashant Bhat \\ Stylist: Dollah Shah

A small hill station located in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Khandala is multiply blessed. Not only is it a nature-lover's paradise, but its cooler climate also makes it the perfect weekend getaway for Mumbai's city-dwellers, thanks to easy transport access. Humidity in the region might be high and annual rainfall heavy, but the dips in temperature, especially over the monsoon season, make it a captivating destination.

Overlooking one of the hill station's many valleys, Infinity House was crafted by Mumbai-based firm GA design, which set out to make the most of the setting's spectacular views.

The master bedroom is cantilevered over the swimming pool and provides shade while also taking in the views

The natural site contours and complex topography presented the design team with its biggest challenges. Says GA design partner Rajan Goregaoker: "The site has a valley view and the house was designed to take maximum advantage of this fact. Designing the house with all the rooms facing the view, and orienting it at a precise angle of 48 degrees – which was derived after a lot of deliberation and site visits – was the toughest task of the design exercise. The infinity pool and the areas around it were then designed to create a juxtaposition of forms, making the entire area an interesting play of light, shadow and volume."

This infinity pool and its surroundings are the architect's favourite design elements of the home, with its 9m-high portal and the 4.5m cantilever supporting the master bedroom above while providing shade and making the most of the sweeping vistas. The home itself comprises an intricately stacked series of angular volumes and cantilevers. The complexity of the physical site guided the placement of rooms with specific purposes, says Goregaoker.

 Designing the house with all the rooms facing the view, and orienting it at a precise angle of 48 degrees – which was derived after a lot of deliberation and site visits – was the toughest task of the design exercise

"Since the site was contoured, we worked with the section first. The entry level would house the living and public areas, while the floor above would be bedrooms, and the floor below would comprise the entertainment area. The site topography favoured the concept of an infinity pool overlooking the valley view, which formed the key focal point of the design of this house."

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A linear passage on the horizontal axis connects the rooms on the ground and first floors, forming the core of the home's spatial planning, as well as driving the layout. Khandala's extreme weather conditions were also a key factor; because of the heavy rainfall, the structure was built primarily using brick and concrete. Walls are 23cm thick with waterproof plastering, while cantilevers provide large, useful overhangs that also serve as decks; all designed to protect the inner walls of the house from both storms and the heat of summer.

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"Heavy rainfall for four to five months a year is a common feature here," says Goregaoker. "The house was designed with large overhangs to protect the inner walls. This also facilitates the practical use of the open verandas and balconies, as these areas remain dry even during times of storms and high winds."

The living room, for example, is bound by a glass and wood screen on one side, while sliding glass doors create an opening 12m wide leading out to the swimming pool and garden. Panoramic views are a key element of the public zone of the house, as indeed they are from virtually every other space, including the expansive bathrooms.

Khandala's climate also determined the interior design. "Heavy moisture poses a serious problem for interiors," Goregaoker says, "so the house was therefore planned keeping furniture to the minimum, using floor-to-ceiling glass to achieve a connection with the outdoors and hard materials to highlight or provide feature walls."

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The result is an interior bathed in light and white, creating a striking contrast with the greenery outside, while vividly hued vases and items of furniture provide pops of bright colour to interrupt the whiteness. Other departures from the primarily stark white palette include a Brazilian granite wall forming a dramatic feature backdrop to the dining area, and a striking black-and-gold mosaic feature wall in one of the bathrooms.

 

Photographer: Prashant Bhat \\ Stylist: Dollah Shah


This is an excerpt from "As far as the eye can see”, a feature article from the April issue of Perspective magazine. To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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