The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates


The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Photographer Edmund Sumner has shared with us his photos of this house that cost just $12,000 to build by Matharoo Associates in Ahmadabad, India, featuring shutters weighted with concrete balls. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Called The House with Balls, the building was designed for the owner of an aquarium shop and houses four huge tanks for breeding fish.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

It also doubles as a weekend retreat.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The long narrow main room is lined on both sides by shutters, opening on one side to the garden and over the tanks on the other.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The concrete balls dip into the water on the tank side when the shutters are opened.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The project has been awarded the AR House 2010 award.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

All photographs are copyright Edmund Sumner.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

More about Edmund Sumner's photographs on Dezeen:

New Architecture in Japan (March 2010)
The Delhi Art Gallery by Morphogenesis (December 2009)
Pearl Academy of Fashion by Morphogenesis (September 2009)
Takasugi-an by Terunobu Fujimori (March 2009)
Yakisugi House by Terunobu Fujimori (March 2009)
Colour Factory by Dan Brill Architects (February 2009)
Outside the Box (June 2008)
Kait Workshop by Junya Ishigami Architects (May 2008)
Gravesend public toilets by Plastik Architects (January 2008)
Boiler Suit by Thomas Heatherwick (August 2007)

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Here's some more information about the building, written by Rhys Williams:

Ahmadabad India
Matharoo Associates


Scooped out of a plot of farmland twenty minutes outside Ahmedabad city, this house has been built for an aquarium shop owner to function as a place to breed fish as well as to serve as a weekend retreat.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Its design is centred around four fish breeding tanks and an observation room which could double up as a living room.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Every aspect of this design is set out to strip expense from the project; be it using 125mm thin concrete walls with standard concrete, one duct space for its three bathrooms, doors and windows made by pressing GI sheets or using bent rods to function as a handle and locking aldrop.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

On approaching the entry from the country lane one finds the entrance nondescript and hidden in the scrub.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The mandatory margin required is used for the tank space – while the walls of the plot and house are used as a retention structure for the tanks.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

These tanks are enclosed by glass windows which runs the entire length of the living space, the added bonus being that the glass works out cheaper than a concrete wall, more so for aquarium manufacturers!

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

On entering the house one steps up into a corridor opening to a small powder room on the left, followed by a choice to either take the left into the bedroom, or to carry on down directly into the long living space.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The layout of the house is such that several differing views of the water bodies are provided; in the bedroom space, the sitting ledge is just above the water level and looks down the long length of the pools; while the living space affords the inhabitant an uninterrupted view over the tanks when the windows are open, and view of the fish through below-the-sill glass windows.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Resting half-sunken under the ground level, negating the need for foundations, the long concrete-box house splits the plot space into two distinct yet continuously mingling spaces; it opens on one side to the garden and to the four nine thousand litre fish breeding tanks on the other.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The living area can be opened to either of these two spaces by top hung metal shutters which extend at eye level through the entire length of the walls.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

When closed it is a 13m long and 3.6m wide space rendered by the light through the fish tanks. On opening the shutters this linear space transforms completely into an infinite one perpendicular to its original direction.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The metal shutters are held by handmade concrete baubles, the cheapest counterweights possible; they either swing in the wind when windows are partially open or dip out of view into the lily padded pools when the windows are fully open making the house animated in use or even without.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

The concrete frame around the window plays multiple roles; as a seat from the garden side, steps for children to climb on from the garden or jump to from the terrace, a weather protection device while also providing a rat & snake proof section.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

It starts serving as a bar counter with the attached kitchen platform for larger gatherings. The grassy knoll that rises in front of the long opening bears under it a bio-gas plant, fifty thousand litres of rain water storage, and an earth heat exchange tube.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Click above for larger image

Back through the shrubbery and fields the house assumes a squat position; the curving wall to one side allows one to walk up a gentle slope on to the terrace running over the length of the house. The weekenders enjoy the feeling of floating over a bed of lily petals while being weighed down by the baubles.

The House with Balls by Matharoo Associates

Click above for larger image

Project title HOUSE WITH BALLS
Location Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Design year(s): 2003
Construction year(s): 2004
Architects Matharoo Associates
Principal(s) in charge: Gurjit Singh Matharoo
Project team: Gurjit Singh Matharoo- principal architect, Hardik
Pandit – trainee
Client(s): Mr. Mahesh Mohatta
Structural engineer(s) Mr. Rajendra Singh Matharoo
Interior designer(s): Matharoo Associates
Landscape architect(s): Matharoo Associates
Others: -
General contractor: Shriram Builders, Ahmedabad
Program: Living room, bedroom, caretaker’s room, 4 fish
breeding tanks, kitchen, 3 toilets, 1 parking.
Structural system: Concrete Raft and Walls
Major materials: Reinforced Cement Concrete
Site area: Approx. 530 m2
Building area: Approx. 130 m2
Total floor area: Approx. 130 m2
Cost of construction: Approx. $100/m2 - $12,000 (in 2004)

See also:


Outside the Box
by Edmund Sumner
More architecture
More photography

Posted on Monday August 2nd 2010 at 12:25 am by Joe Mills. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • That's lots of balls for one bedroom – but good work – more like this please

  • simon

    Nice balls ; )

  • Prathigna

    Although on the first look the house seems a little clinical, after reading the notes the design is completely convincing. I love the way design solutions have been used to cut costs and serve multiple functions. Great job!

  • STV

    Finally a house with some balls… hehe. Great idea!!

  • Anita Albert

    Pure architecture with playful gesture. Talking to me.

  • edward

    Love the absolute economy of it and the look of the in situ concrete. .

  • Tim

    This dark corridor is the living room… nice

  • Michael

    May be inspired by the Walker guest house of the great Paul Rudolph – wonderfull!

    He played a lot with shutter houses for his summer residences to protect them from the sun in summer and the tropical storms the rest of the year.

    Raw materials, beautiful minimal inexpensive residential homes – I will follow up Matharoo – architects with balls – finally!


    The fact that this house ‘only’ cost 12,000 probably has to do with the fact that the workers were probably paid an absolute pittance.

    Architecture aside, the notion that the low building cost is something to be proud of leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    • Rashmin

      You probably never realize that even that pittance amount is great considering the other options of unemployment or even lower wages in the country side of India rural heartland. Also the skill these people learn can help them in the future as most of these people are illiterate in the first place. The cost of the project in my opinion is relative the geographical location of the project.

    • Annie

      low building cost is a problem turned into an opportunity here… to do something as expensive as building inexpensively… sure is to be something to take pride in..

  • RLKC

    This is fabulous! Innovative, creative and cost-effective! I hope Dezeen comes up with more stories like this.

  • edward

    From AR's review the shutters were copied from agricultural use and I would guess the door latches and door construction were as well.

  • horrible haridas

    I'm really nitpicking, but if there's one thing I would change, it would be that metal hook on the concrete balls. Small detail, but very visible.

  • somedude

    I'm not a huge fan of how the cables attached to the balls just run directly over the top cross bar. I can imagine its noisy opening or closing the doors plus the cable is just rubbing off the galvanized or painted finish off the steel. I imagine there could be some hardware to make this detail work in a more effective manner…especially since its so integral to the concept of the building.

  • ness

    wow, this is horribly nice! … love it

  • edward

    The top cross bar could be a roller to reduce friction. But what makes the thing work I can't figure out. Anybody?

    • Angela

      bar probably isn't a roller as the balls are just counterweights that you physically move to let the openings sit in place. The design is time consuming if they are planning to constantly open and close each opening.

  • James

    Beautiful design, but I'd prefer it be a bit warmer. It could use some white paint or wood features.

  • Felix

    @somedude: yeah that was my thought. in a few years you might have a rust problem too because of the abrasion and then every cable is cutting slowly through the bar

    @horrible haridas: what don't you like about the hooks? they look attractively humble to me

  • …made me think of this:

  • eva

    Now i appreciate the house with a lots of balls.. it looks great!

  • daniel

    Thats what love can look like

  • gweilo

    Yes Michael, Walker Guest House is what I thought of. Takes a great idea and improves on it, it's a homage of sort to Rudolph's idea.

    Now if only those concrete balls were also a lantern…

    • edward

      The AR review when it gave this house an award, described the shutters as being taken from agricultural practice.

  • Gorgeous house…

  • Ema

    Nice project!
    But can somebody tell me why there are no glass on the windows? Is it safe… =P?

  • Iain Hensby

    this is something really interesting and it looks really cool as well

  • nice balls…. LOL