The Gully Home / Architecture ED+
- Area :
Manufacturers: toto, fabulous india, freedom tree, Reception center, Kalinga Stones, Bright landscape, Connection
Ammaar Chowdry, Mridula S Chowdry
Architecture & Interior Design:
Mano Bharathi, Sai Maalavika, Purva Bhende
Text description provided by the architects. Located at the end of a quiet residential street in Chennai, overlooking the ocean – the project site called for a home that opened up and offered itself to the environment but also swaddled in its layers of privacy and barriers protecting it from the open environment it is placed. The design brief was very simple, which made it much more difficult – a gift from a father for his daughter who was getting married, and the house would be the starting point for her new journey. The linear plot of 39’x93′ had its largest side facing the ocean with a beautiful view of the Bay of Bengal. Like all beachfront properties, a default requirement was to ensure that every part of the house had an ocean view.
Design planning. The whole house was raised 1.5 meters with a winding pedestrian approach through an entrance garden that led the user into the house. Services and utilities such as parking, assistants’ accommodation and the battery emergency room were placed in a partial basement. The entry garden takes the user into a small foyer that leads to a large great room. It is through this large room that the project gets its name – “The Gully Home”. The great room is inspired by a simple busy street (ravine) in the older parts of the city. The street is where all the locals come together – conversations take place, bonds are formed and one hears laughter, children playing and lots of joy. Likewise, the great room is designed as the place where most of the users’ happy memories are made and is the heart of all activities in the house. The triple-height space has an open living-dining-kitchen layout, which opens onto a linear garden with sea views beyond. Once in space, users are cut off from the hustle and bustle of the city and step into a world of their own.
A conventional residence would involve floor plans stacked on three levels. But to further enhance vertical cross-connectivity, the floor plates are offset 5 feet on either side of the triple-height space, creating views of the great room from the other spaces. The floor plates are connected by an open metal dogleg staircase, each flight leading the user into a bedroom. A set of internal bay windows from each bedroom overlook the large room, making the whole space visually and physically interconnected. In addition to the interior bay windows, a set of exterior bay windows project outwards to have a 180° view of the ocean with a small bench seat which makes it a cozy reading/coffee corner.
The master bedroom has a set of private stairs that lead to a private terrace sandwiched between the hall and the pool. The terrace has direct ocean views to the front, the entry garden to the right, and a bay window overlooking the great room to the left, making it truly a master space for the couple. The highest level hosts the living room overlooking a swimming pool. The glazing is made in a way that when opened; the bridge becomes part of the living room connecting it directly to the swimming pool. Finally, the highest level of the house is a terrace surrounded by brick jaalis creating framed openings to the ocean.
Design approach and bioclimatic materials. While the east-facing building works well for creating direct ocean views, it also faces the wrath of the hot morning sun, causing immense heat gain. The entire facade is double-skinned with a layer of pothermal blocks forming the inner core and half-cut bricks on each side. The use of natural clay materials for the exterior skin of the building has the effect of cooling the interior spaces and keeping the heat inside the walls instead of transmitting it. Although this solves the heat gain in the solid wall area, for expansive ocean views it is essential to give large glazing which would cause heat gain in the spaces. A window system was designed where each window consisted of an inward-opening glass pane and an exterior aluminum pane with operable louvers. For this reason, the following 6 permutations were possible – 1. Completely closed with zero visibility and ventilation 2. Completely open with visibility and airflow 3. Visually open but with no airflow 4. Partial visibility with 50% of airflow 5. No visibility with 25% airflow 6. 50% Visibility without airflow. This system allows the user to modify the in-room experience according to need and convenience.
The interior walls are also a combination of trench bricks and lime plaster walls that extend the materiality from the exterior to the interior. The flooring is a natural polished kota, which reflects heat and stays cool throughout. The rooms are finished with terrazzo flooring in different patterns. The roof of a building typically contributes the majority of heat gain. Therefore, to minimize this, the slabs are double insulated by inserting terracotta pots as fillers which also minimize the volume of concrete used in the slabs. The roof of the terrace is covered with solar panels, so the whole house can run on solar power alone.
Interior design. The Gully Home is a unique project where architecture completely defines its interiors. With an inside-out connection, there is no difference between exterior and interior materials. Sliced brick cladding and whitewashed walls and exposed concrete structural elements are the main interior materials. Terracotta pots on the ceiling accent these materials and add an interesting touch to the space. No false ceiling is used in the house and all slabs are exposed concrete. The furniture is a combination of wood with fabric and cane to continue the rustic theme of the house. Most furniture is custom made by artisan carpenters and designed to specific user requirements. The Gully Home is an attempt to reimagine how modern family life can exist sustainably. It is a home that is grounded in context and meets all surrounding architectural and climatic requirements, making it an embodiment of functional and climate-responsive design principles.