Crisscrossing canals, open blue skies, palms swaying gently in the southern breeze, and a dense undergrowth of lush green foliage are what define Bengal’s turgid deltascape. And, it is but obvious that every Bengali dreams of a house in such a surrounding!
While the high demand and cost of built up space is eroding the natural character of the metropolis of Kolkata, suburban housing societies like Nabadarsha abutting the Bankra canal in Birati are providing an idyllic location for home seekers at a reasonable price. Young professionals, Kaushik and Soma bought a 335 sqm plot at Nabadarsha and asked Kham Consultants to design their sanctuary. It was to house them, their daughter, four dogs, a large aquarium, and be built at a minimal budget.
The open breezy nature of Birati inspired Architect Monica Khosla Bhargava and her team at Kham Consultants to design an open living-dining-kitchen on the ground level with four bedrooms on the upper level. Of these, one was for the four canines. The south-north orientation, cross-ventilated rooms and air vents permitted unrestricted breeze through the house. Even the exterior form of the building with its wind deflected shapes in crisp white concrete seemed to convey the movement of air!
Natural lighting is available in abundance in the tropics but large fenestrations also add to the heat load and reduce privacy. Skylights along with atrial openings cut out the glare and light up the volume of the house. The highlight of the atrium is the sculpturesque staircase which was deliberately designed with no straight lines, in keeping with the curvilinear concept of the house. The railing was designed with small intertwined circles that restricted the chance of any accidents in a household that has pets.
Birati bylaws permit a car porch in the side space and an airy sit out for the family was created above it. In contrast to the street facing verandahs which are more common in Kolkata houses, this is more private. It also serves as an extension of the study room both in space and function.
With houses becoming smaller and open spaces in the city reducing, the roof garden has assumed an important role in today’s biophyllic architecture. Soma’s dream of a kitchen garden and Kaushik’s passion for barbecue were both married to create a terrace garden abundant with fruits, vegetables and a nook to hangout!
Monica Khosla Bhargava
Monica Khosla Bhargava is an architecture graduate from Jadavpur University with a Masters in Urban Design from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi where she was the topper of the batch. She further received a SIDA Fellowship to pursue a Post Graduate Diploma in Architecture and Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden.
As Founder and Principal of KHAM Consultants, Monica has been in practice since 1992 and felicitated with several awards, both national and international. Her projects expressing her spatial, cultural and environmental ethos have been featured extensively.
She has been invited to present papers at various conferences in India, Bangladesh, Japan and the United Kingdom and is visiting faculty at the Jadavpur University, Om Dayal College of Architecture and Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.
Monica has been editor of the International Newsletter Built Environment and was part of the Ministerial Conference at the 3rd World Water Forum, Japan, March 2003 which prepared the Kyoto Declaration on Water.
As President of SPARK, she initiated an urban rejuvenation program for Park Street and today the Park Street Christmas festival is one of the most successful street festivals in the country. Being an active member of Pushpa Bitan Friendship Society, India since 2015 Monica also represented India in the 12th WAFA World Flower Show 2017, Barbados and is a certified floral ‘ National Judge’.