Draw a Distinction

No genre has been pressed more into service than contemporary minimalism. However, in this bungalow in Bangalore, Gayathri & Namith Architects have defined a new sensibility by marrying Mediterranean architecture with modern Indian aesthetics.


Architect Namith Verma

Architect Gayathri Shetty

Go just 20 years back in time and you will find homes that were neatly categorized into looks: colonial, ethnic, country house or formal. These made way for residences that were characterized by excess rather than good sense and design aesthetics. Modern apartments then replaced phenomenon by creating carbon copies of mass-produced interiors (courtesy builders and contractors) that erased all sense of identity. That said, however, today, Indian decor is going through a revival. Architects and designers are consigning bad design to the dustbin of history. The new, more substantial, look is a reflection of the confident Indian. So the language is contemporary, and because India, or Indians, can never be slotted into watertight compartments, the result is a hybrid of different genres and styles. One such amalgam of bespoke design, Indian appeal and Mediterranean architecture is a quiet home in Sanjay Nagar, Bangalore, surrounded by myriad varieties of flora and foliage, so that no matter which part of the house you’re in, you are guaranteed a spectacular view.

Greenery complements the stark white exteriors of this home.

“We wanted to do something different, experiment with design, without forgetting that a family has to live here; it is not a holiday home,” explains architect Gayathri Shetty of Gayathri & Namith Architects who were commissioned with this job. So while it finds inspiration in Mediterranean architecture, the house blends effortlessly with its environment. This type of architecture plays with contrasts, rounded edges and a lot of bamboo. All these three elements have been incorporated in the house. White walls (hand-plastered) and sliced teakwood furniture, ceiling and deck create a stark contrast. “We informally call it the White and Wood Villa,” adds architect Namith Verma. The walls are rounded at the corners, making one space flow into the other; and bamboo has been planted in the courtyard, garden
and terrace.

The view of the dining from the living room, shows how each space simply flows into the next.

Architecturally, the house shies away from a boxed, linear look. Instead, it takes the form of rectangular modules oriented in various directions, yet blending together as a whole. Spread over 6,450 sq ft, this four-storied home has ample space to play with. The entrance gate opens to a tiny verandah from which you enter the living cum dining room on the ground floor. This, in turn, opens into the kitchen, guest bedroom, outdoor living, deck and garage. The first floor houses the master bedroom, a small family area, the daughter’s room and a private terrace. The son’s room, a terrace and utility areas constitute the second floor. The basement has a courtyard, a home theatre and storage space.

A view of the outdoor living area and bar from the garden.

One look at the interiors and the words ‘minimal chic’ instantly pop into your mind. Clean, straight lines with just the essentials, make you appreciate the spatial arrangement of the rooms. Take, for instance, the living cum dining area. The living part of it comprises a contemporary sofa set whose deep tones are accentuated by the bare engineered marble flooring. Floral wooden fans salvaged from an old English bungalow give the room its character. The dining area is equally interesting. Placed near the staircase that connects the upper levels with the basement, the dining table, which has been custom-made using teakwood slices, is oriented such that a small courtyard filled with green plants forms its backdrop. What’s interesting is the clever design strategy employed in this space that makes the home appear seamless. The treads of the staircase are made of the same wood as the dining table, while the risers are white ceramic tiles (complementing the walls and the flooring). The built-in bench at the back of the dining table appears almost as if it’s a part of the staircase. Further blurring the boundaries is yet another smart design element. A seamless glass sliding and folding door divides the living cum dining from the outdoor living area, bar and deck. When shut, you can still see the garden; when open, it gives guests room to move around. The outdoor living area, which has the bar in one corner, flows into a (treated external wood) deck that appears to float on water. The deck can also be accessed from the guest room.

Clever design tricks have been used to make the home appear seamless. Here, the same material, teakwood, has been used for the flooring, treads on the staircase and the dining table.

The blurring of boundaries continues to the first floor, where a small landing area doubles up as the family space, with ample storage and a bay window. The master bedroom and the daughter’s bedroom are located on this floor, each spreading out into an open space such as a balcony or a private terrace. The former has its floor clad in natural teakwood, while the sides of the custom-made bed are inlaid in tiles and a mosaic of white and yellow marble. Soft and subtle shades along with a simple, clean design, makes this room stand out. As for the bath, the vanity and WC have been separated from the open-to-sky tub and shower by a glass door. This area is the only space in the house that uses a bright colour — the bathtub is made of resplendent red glass mosaic tiles from Bisazza. What’s great about this home is that though each space flows into the other, no two spaces are alike. The daughter’s bedroom has a completely different look. Natural teakwood flooring continues onto a raised area, which forms the bed, thus creating the illusion of a low bed without it actually being so. The furnishings, too, have been custom-designed: about 2,500 fabric butterflies have been stitched onto silk drapes to create an alluring sight. While this room revels in soft pastels, the son’s bedroom on the second floor is all about black and white drama. The only thing that adds colour is the custom-designed Manchester United poster. The colour scheme continues to the bathroom which opens into a balcony cum private terrace. To give this space an interesting flavour, the architects put in a glass flooring below which lie black and white pebbles.


Balcony on the mezzanine level.

Many homes boast of breaking down walls to create seamless interiors, but this residence has achieved the same by using ingenious design cues and clever space management. The vocabulary is simple and elegant, but the statement it makes is bold and breathtaking. Whimsy rules in this white and wood bungalow, with contemporary culture as the chorus. It takes a while to grasp the true beauty of its architecture, but once you do, it’s hard to tear your eyes from it.


To create a home for a family of four, inspired by Mediterranean architecture that not only contrasts white walls with the natural beauty of wood, but also gives a seamless character to its interiors


Walls White plaster and plastic emulsion paints Flooring Engineered marble in white and antique finish, Spanish tiles, wooden laminate and sliced teakwood Ceiling Emulsion paint and sliced teak wood Furniture Custom made, using teakwood, metals, leather, etc Furnishings Custom made, using several materials like velvet, leather, silk, etc


Location Sanjay Nagar, Bangalore Area 6,450 sq ft Design firm Gayathri & Namith Architects Principal architects Gayathri Shetty and Namith Varma Project team Gowri Rao and Jesso James Completion 2009 Duration 1.5 years


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