Be it sea-facing houses on the coast or homes surrounded by trees inland, we prefer proximity to nature, provided our space is secure from it.
We stop the breeze from entering the windows so that we can use our air conditioners, we cut trees to meet architectural needs, and even encroach upon water bodies for extra space.
While urban dwellers continue to live in concrete boxes, a house in Alibaug is showing us how to coexist with nature. Fondly called ‘House on Stream’, this intricately and aesthetically carved space has a stream running through it.
Shefali Balwani and Robert Verrijt, founders of Mumbai-based Architecture Brio, designed the house in 2013. It is bifurcated into two parts, with a stream at its heart.
Since the stream is seasonal, it gives a dramatic touch to the landscape and the 225 sq m house.
“It is always animated, like a fireplace in the centre of a living room. In the monsoon, it’s aggressive; by winter, it is soothing and serene. Meanwhile, in summer, it becomes dry. But the soft gushing sound of water remains constant, giving a pleasant vibe throughout the year,” Robert tells The Better India.
The architects have designed the house such that the stream is visible from every part, and a swimming pool is aligned along the stream. “It acts as a substitute for the stream during the dry season, and as its extension during the monsoons,” he adds.
The master bedroom, dining room, living room and guest bedroom are placed on either side of the stream, thus giving it a picturesque feel.
‘The House Is Like An Organism’
Robert excitedly compares the house to an organism that uses its surroundings and resources effortlessly.
Take, for example, the influx of natural air and light. The architects have emphasised the kitchen, as the owners are enthusiastic cooks. It is in the middle of the house, with a natural skylight that allows hot air to escape.
Further, with ceiling-to-floor windows, sunlight easily penetrates the east and west facades. Even though sunlight comes in, the house remains cool.
“A majority of the space has natural cross ventilation. We have insulated the roof, preventing the house from heating up. Of course, the stream also keeps the overall temperature low,” explains Robert.
This nature-inclusive house also has a couple of medicinal and fruit-bearing trees that provide shade in the north facade areas like the kitchen, dining, and pool.
This is not Architecture BRIO’s first sustainable project. In all others too, they consciously imbibe a dialogue with nature and bring a sustainable difference in their industry.
Check out Architecture BRIO’s projects here.
Images courtesy: Sebastian Zachariah and Edmund Sumner
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)