Nestled into the verdant mountains in Idukki, perched over 53 cents of land overlooking the Malankara reservoir, the “Villa Glory” is a slice of paradise in disguise tucked into these gently sloping terrains. Far from the hustle of the city the villa is a weekend retreat designed for a businessman from Idukki, Mr. Jose K George, and his family. The 5250 sq.ft villa is an elegant manifestation of the client’s vision for a cozy, subtle yet spacious and opulent abode.
The architects were well aware of the challenges offered by the terrain and design evolved around these questions on: “how to place the building here without creating chaos and how to essentially connect the building, the reservoir, and the landscape?” “Our primary design focus was to utilise the maximum potential of the site with minimal alterations to the sloping terrain with a sustainable approach along with securing the unobstructed beautiful mountainscape from all the levels.” Says Ar. Sebastian, our principal architect. “Thus, the design was further developed as staggered blocks placed in multiple levels, anchored to the ground by a central wall.”
The conscious decision to design with minimum distortion to the site meant the house would need to be spread out along numerous levels. Thus, multiple planes were added along the sloping terrain, and the split levels developed in turn helped in delivering adequate head rooms for these successive floors.
To retain the original landscape in its raw state, a curved driveway that gradually ascends the slope was proposed along the terrain. The lush green lawn, along with the grey and white stone paved driveway, effortlessly transition into a beautiful garden. With over eighty newly planted trees like mangos, jackfruits, and plantains and a separate vegetable garden accompanied by a viridescent vast lawn, the design attempts to reconnect with nature.
Set in the highest contour of the site, and gradually diverging down along the slopes, the structure was visualized as cubes floating along the terrain, gently embracing it. The design further developed around the two larger volumes, each for public and private spaces, and a relatively smaller volume in between, demarcating the semi-private areas within the design.
The public block is occupied by the drawing-room on one side and the private block occupied by the family room and bedrooms on the other, are bridged together by the semi-private block comprising the stairway and dining space. With a central wall on one side and openings that span in height and width of walls on opposite sides, this semi-private area acts as a nature corridor, connecting the front yard with the backyard channelling in the fresh air.
This rust-coloured central wall placed along the edge of the semi-private spaces becomes a cardinal feature of the house. Along with neatly dividing these spaces, this wall brings in an element of drama for the otherwise subtle interiors. It stands out as a prominent design feature throughout the monotonous exterior. Extending laterally into the house throughout its length, the wall not only acts as an aesthetic feature but also as a visual barrier extending vertically upwards.
The large wooden entrance door opens out into a long corridor that runs parallel to the central wall extending from the entrance foyer to the kitchen.
In between the formal and informal living areas, the linear C-shaped open space behind the central wall has a large pool neatly tucked away from the public eyes. It is perceived as an exclusive leisure spot where none of the daily household activities would interfere and thus, locating it into the basement level. The two double-height walls extending along with the pool, besides creating a sense of enclosure, softly assimilate the exterior landscape into the designed environment.
The whole house sneaks in a subtle charm caressed with a verdant hue. The thought to bring in nature, eliminating the inner clutter by avoiding the unwanted need for heavily ornamented interiors, helped us derive the neutral interior palette. In mere words, the idea was to keep it simple, avoiding chaos.
Though the palette is kept very light, the rust-coloured central wall against the pale tones dictates the atmosphere of the living room. The furniture is kept functional and minimalistic. The natural light and fresh breeze that are swept in through the large sliding windows equally reign the warmth offered within the room. Placed throughout the house, these openings are designed to be larger, with glazed sliding doors to bring in ambient light, ample air, and the picturesque landscape.
Adjoining the living space, the tiny water body laid out in black ceramic tiles is designed to retrieve a piece of the outdoor inside. The soothing sunlight seeping in through the pergolas, the play of light and shadows brings in a sense of dynamics to the space.
The double-height dining area further opens into a cozy patio overlooking the backyard and the opposite wall with large windows frames in the serene mountain view. These openings ensure maximum natural light and proper ventilation into the dining area. Positioned right next to the dining space, the island kitchen with a breakfast counter in white coloured porcelain tiles is proposed in harmony with pure white cabinets in place.
Sprung out on multiple levels, the 5-bedroom house is designed with an array of staircases connecting each of them. Placed against an entrancing backdrop, the network of steel fabricated staircases explicitly engages with the doubleheight void bringing in an air of grandeur to the room. Each flight of stairs leads to a significant level on a particular floor, which directly links to each of the rooms. This was done to avoid unnecessary climbing, making it easier to ascend these levels
Each bedroom has been designed with minimal furniture and large sliding windows. The master bedroom opens out into a balcony with a view to the pool beneath and a verdant landscape outside. The wide openings running throughout the length of the wall keeps the rooms well-lit and ventilated. With minimum light points ensuring efficient lighting, the cot is placed in the centre of the room, facing the wall-mounted with an exquisite set of paintings. A pair of deep red upholstered chairs placed along with these paintings adds contrast to the monotonous interior palette of the bedroom.
The stone-cladded façade, deep balconies, multiple levels, the wide openings, flat roofs, terrace gardens, the neutral palette, along with the serene landscape creates a calm and soothing vibe radiating from every corner of the house. We believe this architecture vocabulary evolved and maintained throughout the design truly adheres to the context-specific approach: to build along the terrain.