Giving this project a very special setting, the site for the House of Galleries is located at the Rann of Kutch, near Ahmedabad. The Rann of Kutch was once part of the sea until an earthquake exposed the sea bed, transforming it into a sprawling desert. It is now a vast expanse of arid land, devoid of human habitation, stretching out to the Arabian Sea, which is only 10 kilometres away.
House of Galleries can be described as both a multi-generational family home and an art gallery. The narrative for the project draws inspiration from a short film presented to the client that includes snippets of Iranian films, Piet Oudolf and his Hummelo Garden, artists like Wolfgang Laib, Zarina Hashmi and photographers like Dayanita Singh and Paul Strand.
The special geographical context and its international artistic inspiration makes House of Galleries a home which a dualistic character, both an outward-looking museum and a locally rooted enclosure.
The form of the House Of Galleries was created by carving spherical arcs from a volumetric mass: when entering the house through a narrow labyrinth, one is greeted by a double-height space that leads to the living room. By concealing the front door from direct sight and therefore disallowing it to relate to the human scale, from the outside the building is experienced as an abstract sculpture. Once the door is opened, a small window gives away a glimpse of the central courtyard. The foyer provides access to the upper level as well as separate access to the library. The dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms on the opposite side of the courtyard open onto a veranda leading to a private garden.
The guiding design principles for this courtyard house include long and experiential walks from space to space, which change in character according to the sunlight throughout the day, modifying the experience for each individual and giving equal importance to indoor and outdoor spaces. Following this principle, the house is designed around an unconventional courtyard space with a sculpted, inclined landscape. Similarly to a work of art, this garden serves no functional purpose, however it is performative in its contribution to the micro-climate of the house and its aesthetic and psychological benefits.
All the spaces enclosing the courtyard are characterised by extensive surfaces with minimal openings that serve as a canvas for the client’s art collections.
Seminal works in varied media by artists like Zarina Hashmi, Senga Nengudi, and Mehlli Gobhai have not only influenced the design process, but also find a comfortable home in these galleries. The internal curved walls are lit through a narrow linear skylight, creating an ever-changing pattern of light and shadow on its earthen texture. Thanks to the earthy, mono-materiality of the walls and volumes, the experience is of an arrival into a womb-like space. There is a great sense of comfort and tranquillity, and the calm light and sounds of nature relax the senses.
An exposed timber truss structure supports the lightweight roof, and is highlighted in the double-height foyer and living room. Looking to celebrate the local arts too, traditional patterns typical of Kutch embroidery of the tribal community of Kutch District in Gujarat, serve as an inspiration to develop the roof diagram for the house. The timber columns and trusses that support the shallow inverted gable roof are also a reminiscing of the hull of the famous timber ships made since four centuries in the nearby coastal town of Mandvi.
At the far end of the living room a loft generates a more intimate space for the dining area below and a sculpture gallery on the upper level. This connects to the more private areas, the kitchen and the bedrooms that circle around the internal courtyard.
House of Galleries
Kutch District, India
House for an Art Curator
Family House, Art Galleries, Garden
Axonometric diagram showing the sequence of construction elements.
The traditional patterns developed in traditional Kutch embroidery are used as an inspiration for the house’s roof diagram.
Salt Pans in Rann of Kutch
© Rice House by Wolfgang Laib
View to the internal staircase
Mandvi Boats and Boatmaking Tradition is taken as a reference for the roof structure
View along one of the Galleries
View of the Living Room