Archi Feature > The Garden Lounge

08Feb10

*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.

The Lounge

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.

By the pool table

By the pool table

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.

Gym

Veranda

veranda lights

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.

Bath

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.

<Architecture and Landscape – M/s Prabhakar Bhagwat. Interiors – SRDA. All photographs courtesy Aniket Bhagwat and Samira Rathod>

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13 Responses to “Archi Feature > The Garden Lounge”

  1. My friend and I have been talking about this particular subject, this is great site and nice text, garden lounge is very beautiful. I will add to my bookmarks, Thank you.

  2. while the architecture has a sense of dignity to it, i am afraid i cant say the same about the interiors. the furniture pieces compete with earch other and the shell. why must one redefine everything everywhere? it is almost like recreating the alphabet. it would have done just to play with the existing text in an ariculate manner. the furniture disappoints.

  3. an inspiration to what architecture in India needs to be…the interiors need a special applaude, as they have given the house a character of its own.

  4. 4 Runjhun Saklani AIA - New York

    Kudos to the design team ! This work reflects a commendable blend of simplicity and elegance.

  5. hello sir i like u designs

  6. 6 Payal

    Love the sketches on the wall. I have a weakness for quirks without gimmickry, and this is a great example. And going by the pictures, the terrace would have to be my favourite part of the space, too.

  7. 7 Kavita Rayirath

    Dear Sakala,

    If you’re worried about the rain washing the building away,
    the architects tell me that it has already withstood a heavy
    monsoon and done fine. The windows are deepset and keep
    the house watertight.

  8. 8 Kavita Rayirath

    Dear Sakala,
    The building is in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
    I didn’t get the point of the rain.

  9. 9 Sakala

    Lovely feature, can you please tell me where this is? As in India, the rains will play havoc on buildings. But having said that its very inspirational.

  10. 10 Sumathi Annaiyappa

    What beautiful design! Absolutely love the mood and the elegance. Wonderfully planned interiors, especially loved the very Zen-like curved sofa! Also the sketches on the wall, an excellent touch. Love the way “minimalism” is incorporated. Both the architect and interior designer have done a fabulous job! Congratulations.

    Viewing this site, reminded me of a recent gallery visit. Works of Suh Se Ok and his son, Do Ho Suh, have a couple pieces that have the same minimalist feel.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Regards,
    Sumathi Annaiyappa.
    SA CREATIVE DESIGN
    5221. Sagecircle N.
    Houston, TX 77056

  11. Mind blowing. A visual treat.

  12. 12 UNITED CONSTRUCTION

    These are excellent pictures and we Devang Soni and Jagdish Gohel are proud to be associated with the team in the construction of the project. This has been a memorable project for the company and a feather in our cap.
    Wishing for a long lasting association with the team for many more projects.

  13. The first truly ‘together’ interior by Indian designers in a looong time.Congratulations to the architect and designer.Keep up the good work.We need people like u in India… with fresh ideas.
    Wd love u to be part of Manthan,a design forum based in Delhi.Pls chk out http://www.manthan.org.



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