The house is situated at the center of a twenty-acre (81,000 m2) mango orchard, 3.1 miles (5 km) north of Ahmedabad. Designed as a single-family weekend retreat, it is organized around a courtyard which becomes the visual focus of the house.
Project Name: House In An Orchard
Studio Name: RMA Architects
Area: 8000 square feet
Year: 2001- 2004
Consultants: R H Rangwala, Sewri Consultants, Sunil Services, Red Blue Yellow
Contractors: Keya Associates, Tapan Desai
Photography Credits: Rajesh Vora
The courtyard contains a lap pool filled with fresh water. The water is used to irrigate the orchards on the property when the house is closed after its use on the weekends. Furthermore, a separate entrance allows the fruit-pickers to access the central courtyard and pool from the orchard when the house is not occupied by the owners. The orchard workers use the courtyard and pool to sort and wash the fruit, after which the pool is drained to recharge the well. The courtyard is designed with these two distinct uses in mind: one of recreation and pleasure for the owners, and one of performance for the function of the orchard.
Situated in the hot, dry climate of Ahmedabad, the first decision in the design process was to locate the house in the center of the orchard rather than on the edge of the property, contrary to the colonial paradigm where the master’s house” occupies a commanding position at one edge of the plantation. Besides providing natural insulation from the heat, the green cover also serves as a visual relief from acute glare in the summer months.
Designed as an oasis in which one arrives while meandering through the orchard, the outer skin of the house is made of local Porbandar sandstone, which emphasizes the textures of a semi-desert landscape. Elements like the gargoyles, wall coping and pavilions on the terrace are made of exposed concrete. The inner living space is designed as a veranda with sliding wood partitions that allow it to be completely closed off from the courtyard when the owner is away.