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Where sea, sky & spirituality are embraced

by Sammi Yip on Jun 30, 2015 in Architecture
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Designed for use all year long, the pool can be drained and covered by the extending wooden deck to create an expansive space for guests

Designed for use all year long, the pool can be drained and covered by the extending wooden deck to create an expansive space for guests

On the east coast of India, a private beach villa exudes native culture and beliefs and celebrates them with sweeping sea views and a spectacular setting

Whichever way you look at it, Villa Shanthi Niwas is idyllic in every sense of the word. In its private setting right on the beach in Chennai, on the east coast of India, unobstructed sea views frame the property's peace and calm, wherein Indian culture and beliefs are celebrated.

The client, with many years of experience in the hotel industry, also owns a resort hotel in Chennai, with its spectacular grounds designed by design principal Viraj Chatterjee's One Landscape Design. Located about 30 minutes by car from his new villa, the resort achieved such a high standard of design that the client decided that Chatterjee was the man to be entrusted the design and landscaping of his private home as well.

The Tulasi Madam altar, doubling as a sculptural planter for the sacred Indian holy basil, is a symbol to bring good fortune to the family

The Tulasi Madam altar, doubling as a sculptural planter for the sacred Indian holy basil, is a symbol to bring good fortune to the family

Chatterjee set out to create gardens of contrasts for his client. The distinct west and east gardens become spaces with diverse character and experience, linked by a feature central axis. The east garden faces the ocean and is designed to celebrate the interrupted view of this spectacular seascape. Here, the pool forms the heart of the space, with a small pavilion acting as an anchor.

Hovering above the pool is the dramatic cantilever deck providing a connection to the west garden. Conceived both as an outdoor feature dining space and a viewing deck, the timber platform appears to float above the pool, extending indoor spaces outdoors and beyond. In the winter, after draining out the pool, the wooden deck covers the area entirely, transforming it into a huge space for entertaining.

A neutral colour palette and natural materials ensure the villa sits in perfect harmony with its green surroundings

A neutral colour palette and natural materials ensure the villa sits in perfect harmony with its green surroundings

The owner wanted to integrate Vastu shastra, the ancient science of architecture and construction found in texts that describe principles of design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space arrangement and spatial geometry. Vastu shastra incorporates traditional Hindu and, in some cases, Buddhist beliefs. The designs are intended to integrate architecture with nature, the relative functions of various parts of the structure, and ancient beliefs utilising geometric patterns, symmetry and directional alignments.

This is a preview of the "Where sea, sky & spirituality are embraced” article from the July 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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