Bengaluru-based practice, Taliesyn Design & Architecture has finished a rural house, Ksaraah, located near Bengaluru, India. Nestled in lush coconut and areca tree plantation, the 4-acre site commands views of the landscape and lies in the shadow of the mighty Savandurga Hill.
Conceived as a pavilion, the architecture is an exercise in constraint, deducting more than building. By this design gesture, the architects hope to preserve the landscape and make it easier for the house to be integrated into the landscape. When removed from the context, the house — with its high walls and lofty arches — might seem grand, but at close look, one realises that only one room on the upper level has any resemblance with walls and the ability to be sealed and provide privacy.
It is quite common to find semi-open pavilions on the highest points, across India, designed as a pit-stop for travellers to rest and enjoy the views. This house tells the same story, with all the living areas designed as a pavilion, sitting on the landscape’s highest level, naturally cooled by the flowing breeze.
“The primary design challenge was to create a built environment that would belong within its context – one that would blend, harmonise, and inspire, rather than shock and dominate. The design intervention, therefore, ensures minimum deviation from the existing landscape, while providing a space with limitless opportunities for the users to thrive in,” said the studio.
The two-storey residence, rests weightlessly on a set of two lofts, bevelled arches, which create column-free flexible space that could adapt to changing lifestyle with time. The ground floor hosts communal spaces like living and dining under the extended roof with the ability to be extended into the landscape. The upper storey features private bedroom with a study, enclosed in a permeable envelop of louvered windows that traverse the floor’s perimeter. The louvered windows are made up of oak wood and could be fully opened, framing the views of the landscape beyond. An open sleek staircase, set against the stone wall, winds its way to the upper floor, and is the only connection between the two floors.
The stone wall also acts as the backdrop to the pool, which lies adjacent to the outdoor dining and marks the edge between the private and public functions of the house. Once past the stone wall, visitors enter into the eighty-foot long pavilion-like space, composed of series of columns, creating a rhythmic play of light and shadow. Featuring the flat roof, minimalist at best, this flexible space is recreational in nature and capable of hosting an evening soiree, an artistic installation, a dance recital or a musical rendezvous. Truly public in nature, the pavilion has been used as a local school during the pandemic and as part of the annual village function, Jatre. Designed to disappear as the foliage of trees around it grows, the pavilion provides respite from the heat and create avenues for discovery and foster community spirit.
Past the pavilion, there is a small residential quarters, which houses the studio for the owners to delve into creative process and possibly double up as a guest room for visiting artists.
The studio told Design City, “The play on the sensual and perceptual abilities of the inhabitants is heightened and is ever-changing as one traverses through the spaces. The effects of volume, light, shadow and textures in each space are designed to be specific to its function and the time of the day it is to be used.”
They continue, “The same spaces seem very different when they are closed or open; when open, they feel like you are amidst the landscape and when they are closed, they offer a cosy, warm ambience.”
Here, the architecture stands without any embellishments, through its bare concrete structure, acting as the backdrop to the light and the landscape. The lack of walls heightens the feeling of bare canvas and presents opportunities for self-exploration and self-expression.
The residence uses locally-sourced materials, which are selected to age gracefully and require minimum maintenance.
Designed on the principle of passive design, the house is extremely low-tech and carries a very small footprint. To reduce use of air-conditioning, unwanted walls are neglected and replaced with plants and trees. The walls of the bedroom are breathable and reduce the temperature by an index of 4 degrees, ensuring thermal comfort and natural ventilation at all times. The pool is placed strategically, to catch the NE-SW breeze, to aid the evaporative cooling and create its own microclimate on the site. The cellar remains cool throughout the year given its stone wall and earth filling. The pool doubles up as water storage tank as waste water from the household is recycled and channelled towards the farming activity, nurturing the local landscape.
The ‘Ksaraah’ in local language means ‘constantly changing’ and the architecture here reflects just that. A play of volumes and voids, intensity of sun, natural breeze, shadow and sound could be experienced here as one makes their way across the house. The house is experiential in that sense and heightens our connection with Nature. Here, form making becomes an instrument for regeneration, rather than a gesture to accumulate points on sustainability checklist. The architecture here probes and investigates not what a private home should be but could be.
Typology: Retreat Residential (Weekend Home)
Name of Project: Ksaraah
Location: Bangalore Rural
Architect: Taliesyn Design & Architecture
Principal Architect: Ar. Shalini Chandrashekar and Ar. G.S. Mahaboob Basha
Design Team: Siri / Yatheesh Kune / Vishnu Naidu
Site Area (sq ft & sq m): 4.00 Acres
Built-Up Area (sq ft & sq m): 487.00 Sqmts (5249.00 Sft)
Start Date: 14th of January 2019
Completion Date: 14th of March 2021
Photographer: Mr.Harshan Thomson
Established in the year 2007, headed by the team of designers G.S. Mahaboob Basha, BVB Engineering College, Hubli and Shalini Chandrashekar, University of Arts, London, the practice’s body of work is spread in all of south India. Each project is a design interpretation of the company’s philosophy, which has resulted in a varied portfolio.
The practice’s design philosophy involves determining the purpose of the brief based on planning, analysis and drafting, to designing the piece of architecture which is deeply rooted to the landscape and constructed out of vernacular materials.
The practice is focussed on architectural and interior design services, braced by a diverse and enthusiastic 15 member team, working in tandem with consultants, engineers and other collaborators, in order to achieve innovativeness and newness in all the design solutions.