Project Name: The Cove House
Architect: Red Brick Studio
Project Location: Panshet, India
Project Year: 2021
Project Area: 170 sq.m
Lead Designers: Ankur Kothari, Anil Poduval
Assistant Designers: Kalyani Shah, Azhar Poonawala
Roof Construction: Arjun Doshi
Fabrication Works: Ashok Chouhan
Grit Finish Plaster And Oxide Works: Devendra Mahor
Structural Engineer: Himanshu Tulpule
The Cove House is a place to get away from the daily hustle of the city to absorb the magic by magnificent views of the Western Ghats. The Red Brick Studio received a brief intending to create a silent weekend get-away space for the client that would offer him a break from the daily hustle and bustle while allowing him to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Panshet Dam’s backwaters, which the site looks on to. The client also desired open areas to be integrated into the built environment to accommodate a bigger informal gathering of family and friends.
Because of the site constraints and the natural site features, the aim was to merge the structure with the surrounding elements. Due to the topography of the land, architects had to work within a limited constructible space. Rather than building on the flat section of the land, the studio recommended locating the home outside this zone and utilizing the site’s natural topography to hide the majority of the house from view at the entry by embedding it into the ground.
A single mono-roof with an inverted curving shape spans the length of the home, covering the section immersed in the ground. On all sides, a continuous clear window separates this roof from the constructed bulk. The clear, which is deliberately placed at the level where one approaches the site, allows the visitor to gaze through the house and enjoy glimpses of the valley across it.
The house’s discreet entrance is hidden behind a flight of steps in a courtyard designed in a natural setting with landscaping elements like plants and boulders discovered on the property itself. It leads to the house’s core, an open and expansive living space bordered on both sides by bedrooms and a kitchen.
The client wanted a spillover space, the solution to which was a custom-built door at the entrance. When slid open, the panels disappeared in the hollow walls, perfectly integrating the interior and exterior of the house. It created a seamless indoor-outdoor relationship.
The living room is bordered on one side by a spacious deck aimed to get the views of the backwaters and the surrounding valley.
The Red Brick Studio stated the concept of this home to be unusual as it largely defines the conventional notion of what a house should be. It tries to be more of a non-building, which is in stark contrast to traditional architectural thinking. Furthermore, the project aspires to respond to the sensitivity of the rich site and surroundings gently. It allows the customer to benefit from the site while never interfering with the wider environmental fabric surrounding it.
The exterior of the home is completed in grit finish plaster with a deep red colour that allows it to fit the tone of the region’s natural landscape. The coarse finish also provides excellent weather protection during the region’s rainy and warm seasons. All of the interior walls are dressed in a mix of white and coloured polished oxide.
The roof is made of Ferro-cement technology, which allows it to be built in only 50mm of thickness. The inverted form of the roof allows it to collect rainwater, which is then channelled and stored in a succession of water bodies, allowing for irrigation during the dry months.
The structure of the house is the most innovative part. The 25m long roof was made cost-effective through the use of Ferro-cement construction. This acted as a sustainable alternative to the typical Reinforced Concrete Roof (RCC). This inverted roof rests on a lovely row of windows which is a unique approach than making the roof supported on the solid walls.
The home is largely composed of wood, stone, and steel, as well as a lot of windows. Overall, it achieves a lovely balance of outdoor and inside life.
While the layout makes the whole space appear as one single large area, there are several rooms, including a spacious living room, dining area, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Two en-suite bedrooms surround the central communal space on one side. A kitchen, another bedroom, and a stairway leading design to an enclosed private terrace are accessible through an arched doorway on the opposite side that matches the profile of the curving ceiling.
Grand doors link the house to the outer world, vanishing into huge gaps inside the walls to provide a stunning connection to the vistas below. The pink/red colour of the grit plaster – intended to ingratiate the home with its natural surroundings seeps inside it to match the polished and raw concrete of the clean, streamlined living areas, blurring the lines between interior and exterior design.
The studio’s approach for this project was to propose solutions appropriate for the site context and with the concept of sustainability integrated into it. A pause from the urban scenario, this home explores ideas local to the site. The roots of the project belong to the local techniques and merge with the surrounding scenery.
This is an exemplary project with a sensitive approach. This home merges well with the surrounding landscape creating a perfect blend of the natural environment and built environment. The row of windows acts like a picturesque allowing the user’s to soak the spectacular views of the range of Western Ghats. Respecting the features already existing on-site, and the natural topography, this residential design fits well in the slope of the site acting as a cove.
This design, aimed as a family retreat, forms an intimate relationship of interior and exterior spaces which is blurred with the uniformity in the material and fenestrations on the walls. The open layout and planning of the home embrace what’s already existing and acts as a perfect spot for a break from the stressful urban life.