Concrete house by Architecture Brio
that straddles a stream in India

| 3 comments
 

A bridge over a stream connects the two sides of this concrete house in India by Mumbai firm Architecture Brio (+ slideshow).

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

House on a Stream was designed by Architecture Brio as a weekend retreat near the town of Alibag, on a site with a stream meandering through it.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

The architects chose to separate the master bedroom from the main part of the house containing the kitchen, dining room, living room and guest bedroom by arranging them on either side of the stream.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Monolithic concrete boxes containing the various rooms rest on the uneven ground and cantilever over the water, while trees grow in the gaps between.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

"Like an organism trying to make most use of its resources and surroundings, the house with its several limbs reaches out into the landscape, making full use of the views within the site and dramatises special moments: a beautiful tree, a view of the mountains beyond or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains," said the architects.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

A walkway covered by a pergola links the bridge with the entrance to the larger part of the house. Next to it, a narrow swimming pool follows the course of the stream and adjoins a sheltered verandah that becomes an extension of the dining room when sliding doors are pulled back.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

The living room and both bedrooms also feature doors that can be slid or folded back to open these spaces onto outdoor decks that bring the occupants closer to the surrounding nature.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

The kitchen is located at the centre of the house, with a high ceiling containing a skylight contributing to the bright space, around which the other rooms are arranged.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

By offsetting these surrounding rooms and raising the level of the living area, the architects intended to give each space a sense of autonomy, while strategically positioned windows create views from one part of the building to another.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Concrete cast against wooden planks gives the building's exterior a textured finish, which will be enhanced as it gains additional patina over time. The natural aesthetic is enhanced by timber screens that cast delicate shadows on the floors and walls.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Photography is by Sebastian Zachariah.

The following project description is from the architects:


House on a stream

Landscape

With a stream running through the house, this retreat in Alibag is delicately woven into the landscape, alternately opening up and closing itself to the different characteristics of the site.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

A multitude of medicinal and fruit bearing trees provide for an intimate ambiance and comfortable microclimate. Though seasonal, the stream bed allows for an interesting landscape feature throughout the year. The house is placed on the banks of the stream where it makes a sudden S-curve. A short walk along the stream before entering the house builds up an element of anticipation.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Like an organism trying to make most use of its resources and surroundings, the house with its several limbs reaches out into the landscape making full use of the views within the site and dramatises special moments: a beautiful tree, a view of the mountains beyond or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains. What started out as a Cartesian response to the site became deformed, stretched and pushed in.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Program

The house consists of two parts: the day areas of the house such as the dining/kitchen, the living room and entrance verandah are separated from the master bedroom by a bridge that spans across the stream.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Since the owners are passionate about cooking, the kitchen is made the heart and centre of the house, a large, inviting volume with a high ceiling and a skylight that floods the space with light.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

This space forms the anchor of the house from where its various limbs branch out into the landscape around existing components of the site. The living room on the left is lifted off the ground to have a panoramic view of the mountain range in the distance. The guest room embraces an existing tree to create a courtyard and just peeks across the dining room to have a view over the length of the stream. The pool is aligned along the stream acting as a celebration of it during the monsoons, and a memory of it during the dry season.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Orientation

The orientation of the program is based on climatic considerations. The bedrooms are mostly west facing with large verandahs and get the evening sun.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

The living rooms faces east once again with a large verandah. The kitchen, dining, and pool areas all look towards the north and are shaded by large trees. The south façade of the house is predominately closed and more solid with the exception of a picture window that frames the view out from the pantry to the fields beyond.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

Monolithic character

While the external structural concrete shell contracts and expands in plan in section it does so as well. The external form of the house responds to site and its orientation and flows from high to low in accordance with the monolithic fluidity of its form. Internally, however, it responds to the creation of space, and directs the eye to frame a particular view.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio

The outside and inside are therefore apart and internal spaces are defined with volumes created by the changing thickness of the internal ceiling.

House on a stream by Architecture Brio
3D model

The heaviness of this mass however is reversed by the lightness of the white washed walls and ceilings. A central skylight and large sliding doors, which span from floor to ceiling and wall to wall bring in the outside into the interiors. The cantilevered ‘limbs’ of the living room and two bedrooms defy the heaviness of the concrete volumes. By not resting it on the ground the relationship with the landscape paradoxically is strengthened.

Concept diagram of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Exploded axonometric diagram - click for larger image

Internal relationships

A series of asymmetrical axis create a path of discovery through the house. The arrival path is aligned with the axis of the pergola, which embracing the pool enters the dining room on the left side. One corner of the dining room overlaps with the conically shaped volume of the kitchen. By shifting the axis of the dining room off the axis of the kitchen and raising the level of the living room, this becomes a more secluded space.

Floor plan of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Floor plan - click for larger image

Furthermore it allows a glazed door in the kitchen to open up to the outside and view along the external living room wall. At strategic positions in the house steel framed box windows protrude through the concrete walls. Placed symmetrically on the interior walls they highlight specific elements of the site, such as the bark of a tree, or peek from the master pavilion to the main house.

Roof plan of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Roof plan - click for larger image

Materialisation

The house is cast in plank-finished concrete with a vertical grain. The homogenous materialisation emphasises the sculptural quality of the house that is moulding itself about the site. Concrete being left exposed in the humid Indian climate, attracts a patina that becomes more rich and alive over time. More so the grey textured surface provides a muted surface against the vibrant green surrounding.

Section one of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Section one - click for larger image

Elegant timber screens further soften the greyness of the con- crete. They not only form a buffer between the interior space and the exteriors, but also create an intensive play of shadow and light on the floors and walls.

Section two of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Section two - click for larger image

Description: Weekend house
Location: Alibag, Mumbai, India
Size: 300 m2
Design: Architecture BRIO, Robert Verrijt + Shefali Balwani
Structural design: Vijay K. Patil & Associates
Realisation: September 2013

Section three of House on a stream by Architecture Brio
Section three - click for larger image
  • Chris MacDonald

    Some lovely little vistas created by the house, well done. What I wouldn’t give for an outdoor toilet like that! Vaguely reminds me of Louis Kahn’s Esherick house, though it could just be the dark wood doing it.

    • janine

      Beautifully detailed and considered.

  • Gary Walmsley

    Though the interiors are well done, raw grey concrete in my opinion is ugly and lazy.

    There’s a lot of ways to make concrete look attractive. This architect didn’t consider any of them.