Composition of Spaces That Intertwine The Outdoors and Indoors : The Courtyard House | SAFE Design Studio

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Composition of Spaces That Intertwine The Outdoors and Indoors : The Courtyard House | SAFE Design Studio

The Aangan is an attempt to acknowledge the contemporary living needs of modern humans while responding to our responsibility towards the environment. The project is a composition of spaces that intertwine the outdoors and indoors. It is a reflection of our Indian culture, where the central courtyard-‘Aangan’ was the heart of the house.

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Nested on the top corner of a small-scale food processing unit, The Aangan is a secondary home to a family of four. The location is dominated by the bustle of the machines, men at work,and trucks moving in and out, which demanded an inward-looking design that brings peace and privacy. While the main northern entrance to the plot was shared by the other industrial buildings, the residents preferred a separate entry to the residence through a private parking space. They stressed the idea of coexisting with nature while comfortably being able to transcend between indoors and outdoors.

In response to the context, the apartment faces the south, away from the main front of the plot.The key element of the apartment design is the spatial arrangement revolving around the courtyards which are strategically veiled from the busy context. The residents are welcomed by the palms at the entrance of the staircase on the ground floor. They walk around the greens in the staircase well hole as they ascend to the second floor of the building into the main living room.The living room is the heart of the house, whose sliding folding door opens up into a green terrace that forms the courtyard. The kitchen, dining, and prayer areas are plugged in to the sides, partially separated by bamboo planters and sheer curtains, yet visually connected through an open plan arrangement. Overlooking the living room is the lounge, tucked up into the double-height volume of the upper floor, making it the family activity hub. The lounge shares the second courtyard with the master and guest bedroom. This second courtyard is topped with a skylight, nurturing grass and the bird of paradise plant, as a visual treat for the spaces. The 4 bedrooms have been remotely distributed in the planning and are equipped with their private toilets and dressing spaces. While the two courtyards are ornamental, a separate terrace has been provided for domestic activities like washing and drying. This utility area is in proximity to the helper’s room and is equipped with both wet and dry zones.

There has been a constant attempt to make conscious choices and adapt passive strategies in the design process. The large windows allow daylight to penetrate through the apartment limiting the need for artificial lighting during the day. The window openings provide cross-ventilation through the living areas. The courtyards are placed on the southern side to ensure adequate sunlight hours for the healthy growth of grass and trees. These courtyards are technically green roofs located on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the building, which act as thermal insulation for the lower floors, filter the dust of the air entering the house, promote biodiversity,and elevate the residents’ mental health. The courtyards sprinkle nature and life into the introverted design of this apartment and make up for the lack of balconies on the sides. It creates a biophilic environment, which blurs the boundary between inside and outside.

Overall, the design has been evolved to suit the practicalities and necessities of modern living while creating a green and cosy home for the family. We were happy when our clients mentioned ‘that they are not missing the public community garden’ during the pandemic lockdown and that they enjoyed being indoors. The courtyards are now used for drying spices and partially serve as a kitchen garden; the children enjoy playing in the sun and it is also the favourite, spot for evening tea. The green spaces/courtyards are now the visual and functional heart of the house.

The decor was formulated according to the client’s priorities and analyzed in detail to accommodate the local materials and traditional crafts. For the interior works, the local timbers were sourced within a 100km radius and have been extensively used for windows, ceilings, and furniture. The double-height timber feature wall located in the living room is made of pine tree skin picked from the waste of the sawmills and naturally sun-dried before use. The laminate dwooden flooring used extensively throughout the house has been sourced from square-foot India.

We value working with the local artisans and craftspersons and respect their skills by incorporating their inherited knowledge in the design. The handmade carpets that embellish the interiors have been sourced from multiple stores in India. The ceiling of the prayer room is adorned by miniature hand paintings, by the artisans of Mandawa in Rajasthan. This painted ceiling depicts the stories of Lord Krishna and connects the family to their Marwari roots. The decor is further enriched by the artefacts collected by the family from flea markets during the irtravels both in India and abroad. We couldn’t feel luckier to complete the nooks and corners of the house with oil paintings made by the lady of the house.Further, to balance the aestheticsand maintain visual harmony, we worked with a neutral colour palette of browns and off-whites and picked the shades close to the natural timber materials. We tried to slip in local materials wherever we could without compromising on the expectations of our clients.


Designed By : SAFE Design Studio (Sustainable Architecture For Earth)

Project Type :  Residential, Apartment

Project Name : Aangan-The courtyard hous

Location : Guwahati, Assam

Year Built : 2021

Area : 4128 sq.ft

Principal Architect : Krittika Agarwal

Photograph Courtesy : : Lina Baishy

Products, Materials : Veneers : Century veneers | Lighting: Kapoor Lights | Doors and Partitions :  Hettich India | Sanitaryware : Jaguar India | Furniture : Glamour Furnishers | Kitchen fittings : Hettich India | Paint and polish : Asian Paints |

Consultants for the Project : Civil, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects, Project Managers, Interior Styling : SAFE Design Studio (Sustainable Architecture For Earth) | Structure Engineers : Ajay Sahni for BMSF Design

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Firm’s Facebook Link : SAFE Design Studio

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