Residence Creating Spatial Control Through Carefully Perforated Volume | Sian Architects
Completed in 2018, the corner house spreads over 540sq.yards for a large family, however, the occupational dynamics were such that, for a substantial part of the year, it was intended for inhabitation by only two women members who were home-makers and preferred centering their entire social lives around their home. Hence, the brief asked for a palatial home that included various possible residential, economic, and leisure-related programs in the interior. In short, a house that could not only induce a comfortable living but also encourage the residents, especially the women, to use their house for functions that were yet to be conceived.
Visit: Sian Architects
Our initial discussion with the family revealed that they were anxious about the relatively large spread of the residence and felt intimidated by the scale or, simply put, were worried about feeling ’too alone in a big house’. Furthermore, the climate of the city which is moody, with harsh daylight, strong monsoons, and frequent dust storms, brought in question long-term maintenance, durability, and sustainability of material and spaces that would be predominantly micro-managed by the women.
All these tangents became exciting starting points for us. For the spatial planning, the floor plans were set out as a sequence of permeable and inviting open spaces within which the interior spaces were organised. The ground floor holds the master bedroom, formal drawing and a spacious open kitchen centred around a courtyard. Each of these opens up to various gardens and open spaces, blurring the interior and the exterior. In this way, the scale was distorted by creating spaces that were just ‘big enough’ to be micro-managed and in times of requirement like social gatherings, could be increased by opening onto the open spaces.
To reinforce the idea of spatial control for the two women, we decided to plan a nucleus living space close to the kitchen. The idea was to create clear and distinct visual connections to the upper floors using light courts, staircases and courtyards as well as main entrances to the residence from this very room. The women could now relax, work, study and spend most of their day in this space without worrying about the house as everything is visually linked.
The upper two storeys hold three large bedrooms, again placed within a network of small lounges, decks and balconies to accommodate private gatherings. Hence, at the corner house, every space was articulated with ample daylight, feels airy and voluminous, at the same time, is intimate and easy to grasp to make the women feel in control of the spatial organisation.
Another important factor manifesting in the spatial arrangement, especially the façade, was inspired by the neighbourhood itself. For years now, the residents of this tight-knit community of Meerut are actively trying to rephrase the stereotypical image of their city as one with rampant crime and dazing levels of underdevelopment. Every project on the street garners immense community participation and is fine-tuned to add an ‘uplifting’ quality to the neighbourhood. The fact that this residence sits on a premium location and makes the corner of the street, meant even higher stakes on the visual identity and the elevation.
We conceived a homogeneous skin made of solids and voids arranged such that the stacking of the floors is rendered incomprehensible. The fenestrations were kept large enough to let in maximum daylight and let the residents interact with a bustling street yet still preserve the quality of privacy and the identity of a ‘home’. As the house intersects and meets the street, a humble stretch of landscape is created, adding not only to the vibrancy of the elevation but also immense value to the neighbourhood. On our recent visit, we observed many of the neighbouring houses adopting similar outdoor green lots, making this stretch a delightful place to live in.
The façade is wrapped in exposed concrete, textured white-surfaces, and engineered wood to stand tall as a monolith against the blue skies of the city. The interior is kept simple, straightforward with durable yet striking architectural elements composing the spaces. Materials such as stone, wood, fixtures, and fittings have been locally sourced and indigenously crafted by local craftsmen with a focus on durability and easy replacement and repair.
The photographs are recent and document the house after a two-year occupation, capturing appropriation of the space and material durability that, too much of our surprise, stays true to the intentions. We now realize that the scale of the house with its carefully perforated volumes, simple lines, and the layered facade is the most prolific part of its identity, drawing the attention of the people who pass by, while simultaneously, allowing the inhabitants to indulge freely and anonymously on the inside. The facade exudes a calming effect, embodying the oasis it is on the inside and the corner house continues to be a house that grows with you, grows on you.
Firm: Sian Architects
Project Name: The Corner House
Design Team: Surbhi Singhal, Deepanshu Arneja, Deepansh Singh
Project size: 540 sq.yards // 4860 sq.feets
Location: Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
Photographs: Suryan and Dang
New-Delhi based SIAN Architects, helmed by Surbhi Singhal and Deepanshu Arneja, is a personal incubator for our architectural expressions. We are inherently attuned to crafting immersive, functional, and authentic spaces often achieved within stringent time and budget constraints. Our body of work includes but is not limited to residential, commercial, institutional, and health-care projects. The practice situates itself within a wider research context on material innovation and affordable housing through built projects and competitions. Its architecture and interior design work have been published and exhibited internationally.