Meetu Akali of Studio MoMo imagines a vintage and tropical paradise for this horseshoe shaped, retirement home in Assagao that’s built around 100 year old mango trees

MAY 4, 2021 | By Meetu Akali
The rear facade of the abode opens up to the pool and is built around existing 100 year old mango trees; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
The patina door is a recreation of an antique portal seen in Sri Lanka. It renders lightness to the living space; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
Teak sliding and folding panels reveal the boho styled, open kitchen, which is the heart of the house. It features an island with a solid, reclaimed teak top that rests on an IPS pigmented concrete counter, timber cabinetry, stucco walls and vintage pendant lights; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
The kitchen overlooks the central courtyard, which is supported by wooden columns and comprises a lotus pond and fountain; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

A century-old mango tree that stands at the centre of the plot has driven the plan for this tropical paradise in Assagao, North Goa. The site belongs to my client, an international chef and restaurateur, who desired a retirement family home in Goa—one that is a tranquil, joyful refuge.

Finding a lush forest abutting the location, my initial thought was: ‘When you have a property like this, you have to orient it to the greenery’ and that was our first step towards designing this sustainable, three-bedroom abode.

We’ve given it a horseshoe shape to enfold two mango trees and overlook the forest. We experienced a challenging time when we realised that the foundations of the load-bearing structure would still interfere with the widely spread roots of this ancient tree. But I was determined to salvage it and, luckily for me, I had the full support of my clients. We reworked the design and details practically overnight!

Surfaces in the living room feature cast in situ pigmented cement flooring, wooden rafters on the ceiling and a neutral palette offset by the lush surrounding. Also seen is one of a series of angular pendant lights; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

An important aspect is the seamless integration of the inside and the outside. Every space is an extension of the other. The rooms have large windows that bring in ample natural light and breeze. We’ve also incorporated a double-height living room with a sloping ceiling, influenced by Goan architecture, to combat the region’s heavy rainfall.

Large wooden doors reveal a volumetric double-height living room that overlooks the forests at the property’s rear end; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

This large, bright and airy space extends to the front verandah, where an alfresco dining setup and inbuilt barbecue overlooks the pool and the forest.

Neutral tones, wooden furniture and vintage decor lend a sense of ‘susegad’; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

For the epicure, we conceptualised the kitchen to be an integral part of the living area, where I envisioned close friends and family sitting around the island counter as he cooked. This space—along with all other indoor sections—opens into the inner courtyard, which acts as the lungs of the house. The idea was to evoke a sense of closeness and vastness, inducing free-flowing energy all around.

Natural light streams in, illuminating the open plan living and dining areas. The stucco plastered walls and pigmented concrete flooring form the ideal backdrop for an array of vintage accents; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

The homeowners Sanjay and Rameen have an understated elegance about them, and I wanted the house to mirror their personalities. So, the colour palette is fairly neutral and uses warm tropical tones with a distressed azure on the doors and accents in a bold blue hue.

Partial view of the guest room and poolside patio from the inner courtyard; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

I’ve also incorporated wabi-sabi aesthetics by using natural materials that age well such as stone, reclaimed wood and bamboo. The entire flooring is a cast in situ sensuously smooth concrete—a mix of powdered marble chips and cement, which will crackle over time. Meanwhile, the walls are finished with a handcrafted stucco plaster, rendering a textured surface.

A customised four-poster bed, Shyam Ahuja rug and timber furniture rest on the old reclaimed Burma teak floor in the primary bedroom; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

One of the three bedrooms is a guest suite, planned and executed on the lower level. It is infused with antique furniture including an old Portuguese style bed, and it spills out to the swimming pool patio. Balcao chairs are chosen for this verandah to achieve Goa’s ‘susegad’ philosophy of leading a relaxed and peaceful life.

The guest bedroom with blue accents spills out to the poolside verandah ; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

On the upper level is the primary bedroom, which radiates a subtle, romantic charm owing to a four-poster bed. Here, a blue patina wall panel, found in a reclamation yard, features a weathered finish to reveal its vintage story and a textured pattern. It has been restored to form the walk-in wardrobe. And all the bathrooms are sculpted in stone and concrete for a raw identity.

A rustic vibe is achieved in the master bath with the help of reclaimed teak cabinetry and countertops; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

The resulting abode is blessed with serenity—one that excites and soothes at the same time, much like Goa, offering us the enthusiasm of pristine beaches and the calm demeanour of the tropics. Indeed, it is a ‘susegad’ home, one that’s in harmony with nature.