Good design is all about blurring the boundaries between the outdoors and indoors. And Ace Associates has managed to do that, and more.

If there’s one word that most (if not all) homeowners seek across the world, it’s “ideal”. And even though the word is loaded with subjectivity, and prone to personal tastes, agendas and philosophies, it definitely isn’t limited. In India, the indefinite search for ideal often veers towards the idea of space. And in our swiftly shrinking urban infrastructures and habitat, finding architectural and design balance that doesn’t end within the four walls of a home is often perceived as pure utopia.

Project Name: Penthouse
Studio Name: ACE Associate
Location: Vadodara, India
Size: 3200 sqft
Photography Courtesy for the images: Maulik Patel; Inclined Studio

©Maulik Patel; Inclined Studio

So, when Vadodara-based Ace Associates—comprising principal architects Nikhil Patel and Ashish Patel, along with Nilesh Dalsania and Vasudeva Sheta—found themselves with a sprawling 3,200-square-foot property in the outskirts of Vadodara, they knew exactly what buttons to push.

The duplex penthouse at a multi-dwelling housing project sits cheek-by-jowl with open greenery and farmland. If you thought that would be enough to bring the homeowners closer to nature, you’re kind of falling short. For, the architects at Ace Associates made sure that the client requirement of “light and openness” didn’t just end with the outdoors. It is, in fact, very much indoors too.

©Maulik Patel; Inclined Studio

Finding the Classical in Modern

Home, they say, is what you make of it. Ace Associates decided to tap into the inherent calm and light of the space. “The house, with its infinite views, came with nature. It was almost raw, so to speak. We decided to work around the openness of this space,” says Nikhil. The first breakthrough in this direction came with the UPVC windows (Fenesta), that sparked off the first of the many design dialogues here. In continuation with this free-wheeling voice, the architects embedded clean, contemporary themes into all sections of this modern home. The ground floor is set in the colour palette of ivory, white and beige, and finds itself dotted with art that is rooted in classical paintings as well as crafts. The composition is an elegant and classical language, which is quite apt considering this section of the house—which comprises everything from bedrooms, living room, dining room, utility as well as store rooms—is meant for the homeowner’s ageing parents. The mood, therefore, is serene.

©Maulik Patel; Inclined Studio

A Soothing Palette

The first floor, on the other hand, allows a bit of colour, with calming hues of blue in the master bedroom, with the space designed in a semi-classical style through mouldings, accessories, abstract paintings. The minimalist design philosophy runs through the intricate detailing of the house. Be it in the furnishings in muted colours (either custom-made by the firm, or sourced from brands such as D’Decor, Address Home or Futura, or imported from Bali) or the accessories and lightings that accentuate the otherwise understated interiors, the architects apply the power of “less is more” to echo the inherent calmness of the surroundings.

Where Nature Meets the Indoors

The architects decided to break the subtle aesthetics by adding a pop of drama to the four-foot wide balcony. With the floors laden with grass and set off by wooden planks and bar, this outdoor seating area is where the theatrics unfold. During daylight, the arrangement makes for a perfect sanctuary, devoid of the sights and sounds of civilisation, and allowing an instant, meditative setting. The furniture and accessories—complete with stone sculptures and silk upholstery and cushions—have all been custom-made and imported from Bali, and evoke the tranquility of a holiday haven (perhaps even Bali!). During sundown, though, the space easily transforms into a dynamic one that can seat almost 10 people, allowing for shindigs and soirees.

©Maulik Patel; Inclined Studio

Good design is almost always about pushing the limits. In this case, Ace Associates brought in their own clarity of design mixed with the possibilities of the space. If this space is a stage, then nature is its protagonist. As design and innovation searches for more meaning with each passing day, Ace Associates have managed to grasp the language, and lend it some of their own definitions. And somewhere right there, the firm finds its own utopia.

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