The Open House

The Long House designed by Sunil Patil & Associates in Pune is a fine example of how effective and beautiful simplicity and openness is…

Text: Deepa Nair
Photographs: Subhash Patil, courtesy Sunil Patil & Associates

As the living area faces the garden to the east and north, only diffused light seeps into this space. The 20-foot double-heighted living room is well connected to the garden, dining, family room, courtyard and multi-purpose hall.

Contextuality of a site is the premises for many eye-catching, sometimes landmark creations by design professionals. The Long House, as the creator would like to call it, we feature here also has its bountiful natural surroundings to thank for its structure and resultant interiors. One also needs to acknowledge the brain behind the design — architect Sunil Patil — of the famous design house from Kolhapur, Sunil Patil & Associates. “The site was part of a bungalow society, and the client had purchased two adjacent square plots (approximately 4,000 sq ft each). So what we had was a rectangular space, where one side faced the road and the other a sugarcane farm. There were few existing trees on the south-east corner of the plot which have been used as part of the landscape,” informs Sunil. “The north side of the land overlooked a large garden which belonged to a neighbour. The concept for the project evolved from here — we took advantage of this to create our own garden as a continuation, thus forming a large foreground for the Long House,” he adds.

The bungalow is planned in such a way that spaces are split on different levels from lower ground to the first floor. The form follows the site and hence the length of the plot has been reflected in the built mass making it a long structure, and hence giving it its name. This effect is further enhanced by creating a horizontal slab on the top, making the house look dwarfed and cosy. The structure also takes into account the climatic conditions of the region, and employs sustainable features through and through. The living area opens out with double height windows to the north and east. The bungalow has the road to the south, so the south facade had to be protected from the sun. It has been treated with wooden louvers that offer privacy from the bungalows across the road. The large cantilevered slabs protect the walk-out openings from solar radiation and keep the facade shaded. Additionally, skylights have been used in the central area and in all the washrooms to minimize the use of artificial lights. Solar panels have been provided on the terrace and are connected to the grid. Strategies like rainwater harvesting and solar water heating, the use of reflective tiles for the top terrace and of AAC block masonry to reduce the structural weight have also been employed in this project.

The living area is set against a view of the courtyard and the staircase with the saree block wall beyond it. The wooden sculpture in the courtyard complements the wall. The skylight adds serenity with natural light filtering in through the day. Note the built-in seats designed by the Sunil and his team which mark the living room.

The brief required the architect to create four bedrooms apart from the living, dining, kitchen, family, puja and home theatre areas. The brief was augmented further by the requirements of a typical urban bungalow — service areas like servants’ rooms, parking, store and utility.

Sunil and his team decided to maintain a simple and transparent approach to the design of the Long House by keeping the living, dining, family and common areas visually connected to each other, albeit in different split levels of the bungalow. Further semi-screens like the vertical wooden louvers were introduced to give privacy to the dining and family rooms without inhibiting the spatial flow. The kitchen and dining areas also form a continuous space but are separated by a bold yellow breakfast table. This happy and vibrant hue is balanced with the grey and white kitchen. The long window running through the dining and kitchen allows connection with the outdoors.

Maintaining this design language, the staircase which connects to the private areas on the first level was consciously kept transparent. To give the staircase space more character and to create a beautiful backdrop for the courtyard, the triple-heighted wall behind the staircase was clad with saree printing blocks in a mural of sorts. The wooden sculpture in the courtyard complements the saree block wall. The skylight on top of the wall here creates a dramatic effect with the play of light and shadows as the sun travels from the east to the west. The metal railing of the staircase further heightens the eclectic spirit.

A wooden dining table complements the simplicity of the decor. The dynamic artwork adds colour in the otherwise neutral theme. The space is visually connected to the living area, kitchen and entrance lobby, as well as to the outdoors through the long window.

The bedrooms are placed beyond the common areas and open out into the gardens. Each bedroom is designed with a unique theme. All the walk-in wardrobes and toilets have been conceptualized in such a way that they flow into each other. The puja room extends seamlessly from ground floor to the first floor. The artwork on the wall, which symbolizes a shower of flowers from the sky, starts from the skylight and runs through this double height. The family room in the central part of the house is designed in such a way that it can be converted into a guest bedroom. A convertible sofa and sliding partition make the space flexible.

The stern simplicity one sees in the planning of the layout is reflected in the material and colour palette of the house — concrete, white paint, ceramic tiles, hardwood flooring, teak wood louvers and furniture, grey and white linen for furnishings… “We believe that architecture, interior design and landscaping have to co-exist. The austerity of the architectural form has been further enhanced through the neutral colour palette. Deviations in the form of customized paintings and textiles offer some respite,” explains Sunil.

To sum it up, the Long House is a happy space with a big heart — one that embraces nature. A space which is unadulterated as it uses minimal materials to achieve what it wants. And most importantly, a space which is transparent and open, making room only for positivity and warmth.

To design a bungalow using a modest palette of materials and colours. A house which embraces nature with open arms.

Structure: ACC masonry, wooden louvers
Floors: Ceramic tiles, engineered wood
Walls: Paints, wallpaper
Wood: Accoya wood for exteriors, teak wood for interiors

Project: Long House
Client: Kavita Desadla and Sunil Desadla
Location: Airport Road, Pune
Site area: 6,940 sq ft
Built-up area: 7,720 sq ft
Principal architect: Sunil Patil
Design team: Anuja Pandit, Sanjay Patil
Structural consultants: Technocracy Consultant
MEP consultant: Siddhivinayak Mep Consultant
HVAC consultant: Air-Tech Engineering
Civil contractor: Atul Constructions