Bengaluru-based IT couple Srini and Sushma had a clear vision of what they wanted their new house to be — material rawness, sustainability, and a spacious abode. They wanted to weave a narrative where every material had a story to tell.
In 2016, they approached architectural firm Greyscale Design Studio to translate their vision into reality.
“The couple wanted a very simple and organic house with a kitchen and dining. At the heart of the house, they wanted one large space with courtyards around to grow plants, herbs and trees,” says Ninu Ahulwalia, one of the principal architects of the project.
The two-storey structure, christened Brickly Affair, was completed in 2018and is located in the city’s Nagarbhavi area.
Susma and Srini have installed a 10,000 litre tank and water recharge pits to store and harvest rainwater. “The water in the tank lasts many months after the rains, and is used for all landscape, outdoor cleaning, and car washing purposes,” says Ninu.
Additionally, the house has eight solar panels of 1×1.6m that produces 2 kilowatts of power to run the entire house. There are two other panels for the water heating system.
The standout element
The visually stunning house is focussed inwards and has brick as its primary material. Others include mud plaster, Burma teak wood, cement oxide flooring, terracotta blocks, and Kota stone.
The standout element of the green abode is the brick trellis facade, created by placing bricks diagonally. The composition of the bricks reduces the heat energy by a few per cent, thus providing comfortable and habitable space, says Ninu.
The exterior facade work, or what is known as jaali in the traditional sense, allows maximum privacy.
“This not only creates a beautiful fascia, but also helps bring the outside light inside during the day and showcases the play of inside light at night. The interiors have been created using concrete, mild steel, wood and terracotta. All these materials interact with each other very well and lend their beauty seamlessly to one another,” says Ninu.
The facade reduces the overall construction cost and promotes sustainable construction, as the bricks are sourced locally, Ninu says. The team saved on the transportation cost and also reduced their carbon footprint, she adds.
Open spaces in an inward house
All the rooms in the house open into the central courtyard. All floors and corners, as well as the teakwood swing in the living room, have a stunning view of the courtyard that houses indoor plants. The bedrooms have been given movable louvered shutters made from Burma teakwood, which allows a view of the courtyard.
“The focal-point of the house is the open kitchen that overlooks the garden on one side and internal green courtyard on the other. The pantry is built in a way that it extends to become the dining table as well, and the entire family spends a substantial part of their day there,” says Ninu.
“My favorite thing about the house is the kitchen garden that connects us directly to the sun and rain due to open spaces. It also lets us pluck some mint, garlic and ginger from our garden faster than any app’s 10 minute delivery,” says Srini.
Natural light & ventilation galore
The architects have used multiple passive cooling methods.
One of them is the ‘stack effect’, a principle of physics through the courtyard, which further allows natural light to penetrate deeper inside. The effect also acts like a chimney that facilitates ventilation in the house. The house captures hot air and releases it outdoors.
The architects have used renowned architect Laurie Baker’s unique masonry technique of Rat Trap throughout the house. Under this method, the bricks are placed vertically rather than horizontally, which creates a cavity in the walls while ensuring their thickness. This way, the requirement of bricks and mortar reduces significantly.
“Rat trap bond allows a vacuum layer within the masonry, which helps keep the building thermally insulated,” adds Ninu.
Further, the architects have used filler slab construction technology where part of the concrete at the bottom of the slab is replaced by terracotta blocks. According to Ninu, this not only reduces the quantum of concrete in the RCC slabs, but also helps in increasing the thermal mass of the building.
Other natural cooling aspects include country tiles on the roof, cement oxide and Kota stone flooring, and two walls plastered in mud. Taking it a notch higher, the firm has made an in-situ civil bed from a cement oxide slab.
Even in an urban landscape, the Brickly Affair has managed to capture a rustic, earthy and modern style, thanks to innovative architectural interventions.
Edited by Divya Sethu