House with a Brick Veil
With increasing unplanned urbanization in several developing nations, most residential neighborhoods have become jungles of concrete and noise – both visual and aural. Built within a congested locality in Central Delhi, the House with a Brick Veil seeks to negotiate the fine line of privacy and connection with neighborhoods. It explores potential solutions for middle class multi-dwelling units built on tight site constraints allowing their residents to enjoy their connection with nature.
The site offered scant views except for a few scattered trees. It is enveloped on the South East, North West and North East sides by major and secondary roads respectively – subjecting one to ugly views of congested streets and high levels of noise especially during the day. The best light (from the south quadrant) and the worst views also concur in the same zones.
The brief was primarily to create a calm oasis within this chaotic neighborhood.
The House is built as a stack of 3 apartments – a duplex for the conservative retired couple and two smaller flats for their married children and families. The layout for the combined 1000 sqm floor plate (about 200 sqm per floor) residence utilizes the maximum permissible built-up area.
In keeping with a strong tradition of brick production in the region - the building was conceived as a brick masonry structure with a high thermal mass maximizing daylight and minimizing solar gain. A 345 mm thick “brick veil” wraps around the building - as a buffer between the home and the city - floating away from it at times to form intimate courtyards for light and ventilation.
The form of the house has been generated as a response to its context - a combination of its setting, climatic orientation, the building bye-laws and client requirements. This meant keeping living spaces away from the South East face, the noisier side of the road, which allowed the South winter sun to penetrate the house in cold Delhi winters. Sections were configured to respond to potential views from the house.
The geometry of openings in the brick veil is independent of the fenestration of each floor thus allowing a hit-and-miss line of sight through them - juggling privacy and framing views to the outside. Natural light and ventilation fill the building while screening residents from the heavy traffic nearby.
With courtyards on either side, rooms are laid around the core of living spaces. Folding doors and sliding partitions allow seamless flow of spaces for the small house to function flexibly. Small terraces are pulled into the house, flowing out from either side of the central living spaces into the twin courts to serve floating landscapes.
Materials that age gracefully over time have been used to keep the construction process honest while highlighting a high degree of artisanal craftsmanship. Details like stained glass windows and reclaimed doors are inserted into the new construction of exposed brick, cast in-situ terrazzo floors and planked concrete slabs; imbuing it with a modern narrative rooted in tradition.
The project was a finalist for the House of the Year at World Architecture News (WAN) Awards 2016.