Modo Designs and STUDIO IN-DTALE redefine the idea of a home open to nature on the outskirts of Ahmedabad
NOV 28, 2023 | By Ela Das
“This home is the most open one we’ve designed, which perfectly echoes the home owner’s personality and his love for having gatherings of friends and family over,” Arpan Shah fondly recalls upon entering The Courtyard House. Nestled on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the sleepy hamlet of Rancharda, the principal architect and his team at Modo Designs — along with interior design firm STUDIO IN-DTALE and landscape design by Prabhakar B. Bhagwat—built this 10,350 sq ft contemporary bungalow to harmoniously blend into the lush landscape on the one acre property.
As we take the curvilinear pathway that leads the way to the south side of the plot, we approach the seemingly brutalist facade of the cantilevered porch. Stepping into the entrance’s central courtyard-facing vestibule, however, allows us to immediately take in the expansiveness of home’s interiors.
The heart of the home is the central courtyard—an expansive, clean-lined ostensibly open-to-the-outdoors space that ties most of the ground floor to the guest, master and parents’ bedroom as well as the swimming pool, gym and staircase leading upstairs to the entertainment room and terrace. It highlights the pièce de résistance of this home’s architecture that ties all the spaces together. Overlooking this is the puja room, study area and formal drawing room overlooking the north garden’s flora gently dancing in the morning breeze, with the kitchen and its adjoining dining room designed across it.
“This house was designed for the owner, and his father and daughter, who wanted a con- temporary dwelling which would be open to nature with pockets of space. We were inspired by the typology of courtyard houses, and the traditional pol house forms of Old Ahmedabad.
Our starting point was designing the central courtyard, and flowing the rest of the spaces around it to feel open or semi-open at all times. While there’s a long puncture in the ceiling here that opens the house to the sky, which you’ll also find in the pool courtyard, a remote- operable louvre system allows both roofs to easily close according to the seasons or time of day,” points out Arpan. The sense of openness continues across each room which either opens out to the north garden or the peripheral courtyards.
While the central courtyard filters light through its retractable pergola, beams of sunlight seep into the peripheral courts through the plantations. This makes each space come alive with a symphony of light and shadow-play which moves through the day. While the softer morning rays flood the centre of the home, the west corner is purposely kept stark to reduce heat as the day progresses into the hotter afternoons.
The abundance of nature that wraps even the interiors here is complemented with a polished and sleek (yet surprisingly cosy!) natural material palette. “All the walls—from the exterior facade to even the ceilings—are in a pale cement grey to create uniformity and cohesiveness. For the interiors, raw wood panel- ling coated with lime paired with patterned concrete or roughened marble on the floors adds a dark juxtaposition against the abundance of light. To make it visually stand out, the central courtyard floor is laid with lava stone,” shares Arpan.
While envisioning all the natural elements within the home, the missing piece of the puzzle was water. Rather than designing the pool conventionally in the space outdoors, the swimming pool flows into the pool courtyard beside the drawing room. “We wanted this to be visible in different spaces inside the house rather outside,” Arpan explains, adding, “the operable roof opens, bringing in waves of natural light that reflect from the water.”
While everything is built to signify the scale of design and materiality in this courtyard-filled bungalow, it’s safe to say that the team has stayed close to the brief of building an open nature-filled home. “The design of a home is developed as a response to the characteristics of a place and the people who live in it. Inspirations and peculiarities are gathered from them and given a poetic expression that reveals itself through the walls,” muses Arpan.