Archi Feature > The Garden Lounge
*An Indian By Design Exclusive*
Herman Melville once said ‘They talk of the dignity of work. Bosh. The dignity is in leisure.’
Built over an old outhouse, the Garden Lounge, created by M/s Prabhakar Bhagwat with interiors by SRDA, is a private space of leisure, a retreat, built to step away from everyday living. A short walk from the main home, it is a hideout within the large grounds, flanked by trees, a sunken garden and a cool blue pool. This post walks through the structure, landscape and interiors of the lounge – all of which are strongly voiced and distinct – and explores to see if they work to bind or alienate the sense of leisure.
Aniket Bhagwat says the Garden Lounge intentionally plays second lead to the adventurous architecture of the existing main residence. But there is nothing unassuming about what he has built.
As you approach the Lounge, depending on which end you walk in from, the building plays tricks with your eyes. The sunken garden elevates it and makes it seem higher than the ground floor structure that it is.
On the other side, the blue water that skims the edge does the exact opposite by making the building float low.
20 ft RCC columns flank the entire width of the ground floor. The varied angle at which each column is placed, coupled with its deceptive girth portrays the picture of delicate blinds caught in the middle of a noonday swing.
A large deck-like extension bisects the veranda on an axis and forms the end of an 82 ft long pillar-less lounging room that juts out of the building to sit on the edge of a jigsaw-tiled blue pool. There are very few walls in the entire building and every area – lounge, gym, pantry, yoga deck, bedroom – can be accessed by walking through the veranda. Thus giving one a view of the greenery at all times, yet keeping the oppressive Ahemdabad heat well out.
A quiet delicate flight of stairs leads to a blue tiled terrace with stone benches to sit and take in a sunset perhaps.
Aniket refers to the Terrace as his favourite part of the build. The length of the terrace mirrors the veranda, like box seats at the opera – high enough to observe but deep enough to be left alone within. I wonder if, when seen from a great height, the blue pool and the blue of the terrace would seem to flow into one another.
The crossing of the veranda and the lounging room creates a cosy niche that protects a giant old tree which forms the focal point of a shared courtyard for the lounging room, the gym and the yoga deck; its branches rising up to fan the terrace.
While the landscape is rounded, lyrical, organic and soft, the building is boldly angular and strong. Yet when one walks through, it feels like each respects the other and nestles in comfortably. That the angles don’t disturb the order of nature, rather create a quiet sanctuary from the elements. The open plan and minimal use of textures leaves a blank slate for the interiors. To be overdone, underdone or sometimes so perfectly matched that it turns bland. But as with the landscape and the building, the interior leaps over the quicksand and raises the experience even further.
Every piece of furniture and lighting is bespoke and has been created for this project. The 82 ft lounging room is divided by well placed furniture and compartmentalised lighting.
Samira Rathod’s quirky sense of proportion is what makes her furniture and lights so unique. The sofa with its many layers of cushions, the patterned rug that reflects in the mirrored coffee table while bonding with a blue armchair which ought to jar between all the warm shades but somehow doesn’t, handmade industrial looking lights that stand guard to keep the dark away with the softest of glow. The decor doesn’t follow a period in time, rather nudges to an Indian tradition that makes it all work as one – the idea of a ‘joint family.’
Samira’s sketches playfully mirror the placement of the furniture yet stand alone as a piece of art.
The living area, a bar, the pool table create their own corners but everyone can access the other, shout out or run across. It reminds me of a common room in a dorm, built to bring people together, not a space for solitary leisure. For the ones who wish to wander off, on the long running veranda are charpoys and chairs, and some more seating surprisingly, in the gym. The veneer is printed to camouflage with the gym equipment and Samira adds ‘one could pick up the cushions from the chairs and throw them on the floor and lie with legs up in the air.’ The curved sofa is arresting and I wonder why it didn’t make it to the veranda or the living room.
The building also features a bedroom with an en suite bathroom, set away from the living/bar/pool room, on the other end of the veranda.
The bedroom has a study, a TV area and nooks to sit and think/read/meditate within. The use of wood, metal, mulmul and plexi-glass lend solidity, warmth, a sense of lightness and modernity, simultaneously.
The study with its intellectual chair and minimalist light seems an ideal space for inspired writing. The lounge seating by the TV is lazy and indulgent. The bed faces the garden and instead of a headboard has a screen that rests on a pleated plexiglass case. The floor to ceiling windows are covered in yards of practical white mulmul that along with the plexi-glass pleats lend a sense of peace and a respite from the harsh sun. The room stays true to its function in each area and equally binds everything together without any difficulty.
The bathroom is leisurely. A walk down the corridor is a bath facing the garden. And as you walk back, a curved wooden dresser, large mirror and a generous pouf wills you to sit, spend time, dress at your own pace.
The Garden Lounge is true to its name. A leisurely retreat that works as well with a crowd as it does with one who wishes to be solitary. There is so much individuality – in the structure, the landscape, the furniture, even in the lights that stride the veranda – yet all seem to co-exist without seeming out-of-place. The final test though is one of use. As Aristotle said, ‘We give up leisure in order that we may have leisure, just as we go to war in order that we may have peace.’ I do hope that the owners of this generous space will be at leisure to enjoy it.
Filed under: Indian Architecture, Indian Interiors | 13 Comments
Tags: Ahemdabad, Akalpya, Aniket Bhagwat, Furniture, Indian Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, Lounge, Prabhakar Bhagwat, Samira Rathod, Smruti Bhagwat, SRDA