Architect Dean D’Cruz’s expansive family home in Goa splendidly blends history and homeliness, enveloped in a cocoon of green

AUG 27, 2018 | By Mrudul Pathak Kundu and Nadezna Siganporia
The main verandah features columns made from a single piece of Burma teak with solid wood trellis railings and Spanish Portuguese tiles that are as old as the structure; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
The master bedroom includes a Rime of the Ancient Mariner themed mural, a floral pattern on the ceiling and cement paint flooring. Also seen are an antique bed and writing table, a sofa from an old Parsi home and a Chinese side table; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
One of the memories in this living room is that of D'Cruz and Alice's wedding reception, which was held here. The space boasts a 100-year-old family piano, a desk belonging to the architect's father and a meeting table from Alice’s ancestral home; Photographs by Fabien Charuau
Located in a peaceful corner of Saligao, Goa, is this sprawling 8,600 sq ft, Portuguese style villa with its beautifully restored 105-year-old architecture. Dean D’Cruz of Mozaic Architecture and his wife Alice, an English professor, lovingly call this home Villa Rosa Cruz.

Old-world charm The layout of the home is typical of large Goan houses. An impressive staircase leads to wrap around balconies and an entrance foyer with two living rooms on either side. Beyond this is a long multipurpose room which doubles up as a dining and family space.

“A unique feature seen in the front of this house is the balcao (a porch) that overlooks a courtyard garden and allows for interaction with the outdoors. The main bedrooms give a view of the verdant greenery through generous corner verandas,” Dean explains.

The living room includes a large painting by the couple’s daughter of a beggar on the streets of Panjim, and an antique record player that the family still uses to play their envious collection of records. The painted mural along the ceiling is of Thumbelina riding the frog; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

True to its roots Dean’s creations exalt local architecture and materials. He ferociously advocates sustainability and green structures. It comes as no surprise that very few alterations were made to their home. Masonry repairs, woodwork, adding electricity, and converting the trellis summer rooms into bathing spaces were some crucial changes.

The long dining hall has a Jacobean set, the L&T boardroom table and a contemporary Scandinavian table. An old light from The Bombay House illuminates one corner and a ship’s bell has been repurposed into a dinner gong; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

Original features like oyster shell windows and the 16ft-high false ceiling with decorative panels and painted murals were retained. The most impressive feature is the Spanish and Portuguese flooring that despite being over a century old, shows no sign of deterioration.

This is where books inherited by the couple’s parents are kept. Also seen are a mural themed on The Secret Garden, curvilinear patterns on the ceiling, old family photographs, an antique chandelier, shelves from the old Saligao Club and seating from D’Cruz’s ancestral Mumbai home; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

“The entrada (entry) door is made of genuine China mosaic of old crockery,” he says. Throughout the home tall doors and windows with pointed arches evoke a sense of gracefulness and the riveted metal work hearkens to the pre-welding days.

In one corner of the wrap-around verandah is antique furniture from D’Cruz’s grandmother’s home in Mumbai; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

Treasure trove of memories Most of the furniture was bought by Dean’s parents, some sourced from antique shops and auctions at old Parsi homes. Heirlooms like a 100-year-old family piano, meeting table from Alice’s ancestral home, a large collection of books from their parents, and chairs from his grandmother’s Bombay house fill the expansive rooms.

The step-out between the old living area and the verandah showcases restored, old Spanish Portuguese tiles that feature varied patterns; Photographs by Fabien Charuau

“Our 14-seater dining table is Larsen and Turbo’s first boardroom table, a gift from Holk Larsen for whom my mother worked in the 1950s-60s. The home is an assemblage of memories of different friends. It was like keeping a memory of them back in India.”

Oyster shell windows, typical of old Goan homes, allow privacy and bring in light; Photographs by Fabien Charuau