Pondicherry villa by Hohm Design Studio is all about tropical modernism and native traditions
AUG 1, 2022 | By Shriya Goyal
With invasive vegetation, native traditions and a rich oeuvre of materials, Geoffrey Bawa created the style now known as Tropical Modernism—a movement which looks to construct with the space rather than in the space. Jumping on that bandwagon after coming across a dilapidated beach villa in Pondicherry, Hohm Design Studio restored the structure into a balmy second home.
A spacious 6,500 sq ft structure, La Serenite, on Serenity Beach, Pondicherry is designed by Sonal Chordia, Chief Interior Designer at Hohm Design Studio and styled by Manisha Ranka.
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The curious brief
Sonal reminisced, “With aluminium partitions, exposed pipelines and the most random paint shades on the walls, I knew it was going to be a herculean task to convert this dark and dingy place into a welcoming weekend home. The shell was that of a heritage Kerala home and we decided to use that to our advantage and fabricate an earthy aesthetic.”
The deteriorated and unsound condition provided an opportunity to get creative and craft an intimate staycation for a family of eight (including four pet dogs) that are usually occupied by their professions.
Tour every turn of the weekend home
With its heritage pillars, wooden ceiling, traditional barge board and athangudi tiles, the entrance verandah of the home is the perfect lazing spot for the furry members of the family. The living room with its black and white flooring and wooden framework ceiling pays a tribute to the Bawa aesthetic.
A pet friendly space, the children’s bedroom is designed with micro cement floors and layered levels of bed by the local masons of Auroville. Pool hut area and the billiard room and TV room are crafted for leisure and family time. Each space has its own pantry, making them functionally apt, as desired by the woman of the house.
Furnishing a coastal appeal, the pool hut is the focal point of the house with a rattan sheet ceiling held with a teak wood rafter framework. With cushioned lounge bed and high dining table, it opens into the outdoor pool and garden areas. The bar and powder room have a French influence keeping in sync with the colonial feel of Pondicherry.
A family area with a private AV room along with the main and guest rooms harbour the first floor. Designed like a suite with a tea area overlooking expansive views of the beach, the main bedroom accommodates a large dressing area and an outdoor open-to-sky shower. With views of the pool, the guest room is an earthy palette with a swing bed.
Ideal for leisurely sunny days, the expansive swimming pool with a jacuzzi, a small bar table and water features craft a perfect spot to sit back and loosen up. A pergola shrouded under the bougainvillaea along with additional seating area grant flexibility to spend time together alongside doing their own things.
Ideas to bookmark—colours and materials
Most of the furniture, light and decor pieces used in the project are created by various boutique stores and units of Auroville, thus contributing to consuming local talent. Each space has its own story with distinct flooring combinations of plains, patterns and prints that devise a vibrant, summer narrative.
Being a run down property, sprucing the space required efforts. Sonal recounts, “To keep the space natural and sustainable, we have extensively used natural materials such as concrete, wood, stone and bamboo. Structurally I did not break any walls, just removed doors and made openings and used the same restored antique teak wood doors in other areas. Each piece of furniture, fans, lights and even the handles were either custom made or handpicked in order to fit the design language of the space.”
What Sonal fell in love with…
Sonal fell in love with the beachfront location of the villa. She says, “What appeals to me about this project is the way each room has its own story to tell. From the earthy palette of the bedroom to the tropical living room to the English powder room and bar to the formal billiards room to the coastal pool hut, all flowing into one beautiful design story. The synergy and creative freedom that the owners gave me to curate the collection is what sets it apart.”
Blurring the boundaries between the indoor and outdoor spaces softened the dark overtone of materials utilised in the home and instilled natural light. Sound of splashing waves, the experience of a sea breeze, picturesque sunrises and dreamy sunsets draw an ideal location for a second home. This private villa on the beach savours all these and turns out to be the perfect retreat.
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