Can contemporary structure be used to allow a family’s traditions and heritage? The knee-jerk answer may be no, since early-20th-century modernism dismissed tradition in many of ways. But given that today’s modern design combines contemporary design with the modern technology and ways of life, can it be possible that it can be equally as suitable a backdrop to heritage as yet another fashion?
An equilibrium of contemporary life and the heritage of a three-generation household is but one way of describing the Ramchandani residence in Houston, designed by Intexure Architects. This ideabook will help you through the house to learn more about the above questions and see the way the house relates to its landscape, and the way the owners take advantage of the spaces round the house.
in a Glance
Who lives here: 3 generations of an Indian family
At a previous ideabook that spanned Intexure’s very own live-work studio in Houston, one thing that came to the fore is the way in which the plan made a differentiation between the two main functions, but the spaces transitioned from one to another. A similar thing occurs inside of this Ramchandani home, which includes a large, double-height space during its heart to separate but additionally connect the rooms on either side.
On the back side of the house, that double-height space is visible through full-height glass walls partially shaded by an overhanging roof. Notice the concrete walls that extend out of the house — the one on the left props up the next floor, and the one on the right is freestanding — as all these are important areas of the plan.
It’s also worth pointing out that the assortment of outdoor spaces: the open space by the pool, the smaller spaces beneath the balcony and very low roof, and the sheltered outdoor kitchen in the end of the driveway.
The front part of the house helps to produce the plan pretty clear, while revealing the way the windows react to the exterior. The double-height space, here facing west, is coated in translucent panels to cut back on direct sunlight in the afternoon and provide some privacy. For reference, the brick-covered quantity below the alloy panels on the left houses the garage.
The plan is essentially H-shaped, with the double-height distance occupying the crossbar and additional spaces around the sides. It is founded on a traditional Hindu nine-square grid, with the double-height distance in the middle, theoretically connected to the eight additional squares. The plan doesn’t follow the grid; a number of the smaller squares are allocated to outdoor space (both in front and the back), and the central space — defined by curved concrete walls — is used as a means of energy flow through the house.
Walking through the front door, one is immediately within the double-height space, looking east toward the backyard. The walls define the sides, but only up to waist height upstairs; distance flows from the centre to the rooms on the other side. Throughout the concrete wall in the space are the kitchen and living area.
Looking to the west and front door, we can see the bridge that joins the two legs of this “H” round the central space. The bridge’s placement implies also that one enters into a streamlined space, making a subtle transition in the entry to the fantastic room.
A few partial-height translucent panels assist to place off the walkway below the bridge in the rest of the great room. The visual terminus of this axis, awaiting the stair we saw through the huge wall of glass on the front of the house, is a small side yard.
The double-height wall of glass in the stair might not make sense when viewed from the road (placing the residents ascending and descending on display), but in the inside it makes more sense. The view of this tree is essential, a fact reiterated by the expansion of the concrete wall in the grass that is pointing towards it. Just like with the glass facing the garden and the side-yard perspective in the prior photograph, link to nature is a major area of the plan.
Thus far we’ve walked through the front door, looked round the impressive great room and walked up and toward the stair via the walkway below the bridge. Now up on the bridge, the attractive elements of the contemporary design come to the fore.
The translucent panels give a soft light that heightens the experience of walking out of one side (the master suite, behind us) to another (two bedrooms and a game room). Next to the guardrail in the space is really a spiral stair, yet another means of moving down and up apart from the stair in the front part of the house.
More translucence is located in one wall bordering the central space, in which frosted glass panels float the concrete wall. On the other side is a hallway leading to the master suite; the cement is a base, and the glass panels are a backdrop, for what Intexure calls a Ganesh gallery.
These Indian statues are given prominence on the private side of the house, but their blurry picture is visible in the public central space.
For the most part the interiors are easy, permitting the furnishings and heritage pieces to come to the fore. And since in this perspective of the master bedroom, the outside is always believed. South light and cross ventilation occurs above the bed, and the east-facing balcony allows you to measure out immediately after waking.
Elsewhere in the house are devotional shrine niches, such as in this study. A base cupboard in the millwork on the right opens to show important mementos.
A window from frame on the right (like the one overlooking the side yard space in the end of the hall seen before) gives balance to the shrine. Additionally, double doors provide access to the garden underneath the master bedroom balcony.
The outdoor areas are set up to be an expansion of the interior, concerning the nine-square grid and religious facets. Intexure’s design provides some flexibility concerning what the household can do and where they could do it.
The contemporary design serves to create a simple and calm backdrop for the 3 generations under one roof — and to highlight the trees and the skies.