The coastline of Alibag is dotted with bungalow, some fairly opulent, others much more modest. An artist based in Mumbai asked our firm to remodel one of the more humble kinds. Built within a beautiful palm plantation, the 30-year old unassuming structure with four thick walls and small windows seemed unresponsive towards its context. The palm grove in question is situated by the beach. Undoubtedly, the proximity to the beach creates an intimate connection with the sea. Furthermore it adds a sense of calm and serenity to the site.
A straight forward process would have been to demolish the house in entirety, and treat the site as tabula rasa. However it would be much more exciting to imagine the house revitalized, and to integrate it with its surroundings. Moreover, the greenest building is the one that is already built. But often, the most exciting aspects about designing are also the most challenging.
This challenged us with a number of questions. How do you transform a house without demolishing it? How do you house more program retaining its footprint and roof? But also, how do you create bigger spaces, when you are bound by the footprint? And perhaps most importantly, how do you extend the built on coastal land, with minimal impact to environment?
The refurbishment of the house starts with a new imagination of the space. A metamorphosis that makes the house more permeable, and pertinent to the surroundings. By reducing the house down to the structure and removing internal walls, the house starts to breath and transforms completely.
A thoughtful separation of spaces opens up the internal layout and provides more connectivity. A backless bookcase and a wide desk seem to divide the dining and living areas but remain accessible from both spaces. Further a serving counter, which doubles up as a breakfast area with bar stools separates the open kitchen from the dining room.
The addition of a prefabricated steel framework for the deck takes support from the original RCC built form. This avoids the need to further reinforce the deteriorated structure. The interior dining space and kitchen counter extend into the verandah, creating an outdoor dining experience.
The external spaces around the house had been neglected in the past. By placing an outdoor shower and powder room and an intimate courtyard in the interstitial spaces, the exterior spaces become effectively utilised.
An intimate garden with a wooden deck to lounge on, a hot tub and the existing palm trees, surround the living room on three sides. A compound wall of locally available basalt stone separates the garden from the adjoining main gate. Additionally it provides privacy to the living room. The minute windows of the house that limited the amount of light inside the house are now full length doorways. They open up the ground floor spaces into the garden. On the upper floor the enlarged windows open the bedroom into the deck and the view to the sea.
By reorienting the staircase you can now access the upper floor from the front of the house. The first floor that was once only a bedroom and verandah, now extends out in all directions as the wooden deck.
A material palette of concrete finish walls and reclaimed wood creates a neutral backdrop to the vibrant greens of the palm grove. The refurbishment integrates the house with the surroundings, allowing the residents to immerse in its setting. Through these interventions, the house metamorphoses from a heavy, gloomy structure to a much lighter and permeable one.
House in the Palms
Refurbishment, Adaptive Reuse, Renovation, Remodel, Transformation
The earlier house lacked semi open and transitional spaces between the inside and outside, and was suffering from corrosion in the concrete framework
The roof of the deck acts as an extension to the existing pitched ceiling slab of the bedroom. Furthermore it carries rainwater through its internal channels till the spouts.
The rainwater chains from the spouts make their way into the catch basins hidden below gravel.
A wooden deck strategically creates shading to the house. The deck forms a verandah space below. It enhances the verandah with animated filtered natural light.
Dining verandah behind the palm grove. A hand cut basalt on compact earth makes a permeable plinth below the roof extension.
The earthy and pervious nature of the extended plinth merges with the softscape around the house, making it more rooted in its context. Collapsible sliding folding doors replace the heavy walls around the dining area, opening up the space completely.
Transparency from the dining verandah, dining room, open bookcase, living room and the courtyard behind it.
Before and After
Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan