House for the Bajaj in Moira Goa
House for the Bajaj in Moira Goa by Architect Elizabeth
Architect Elizabeth designed this house in Goa for her clients who wanted to settle down in quite surroundings unlike the crowded and noisy beach belt, which Goa is popularly known. They had purchased this very long strip of land in the Moira Village by the river on which one had to leave 15 metres river front as no development zone (as per bylaws). The site had a few wild trees and a nallah leading to the river in the no development zone, dividing the front portion of the site into 2 halves. The property had a major slope from the road towards the river, while the river could not be seen from the road at all.
The Bajaj’s were a young couple with two little kids and wanted a house to live in where they wanted their own privacy with entertaining spaces as well. They had a large collection of art, photographs, artifacts, furniture and paintings. The challenge was how best one could incorporate the narrow width of the river view on the strip of land. The planning thus adopted was to put the garages, kitchen & the servants block towards the road & the living & private spaces on the riverside. To reach the other end, one had to create a spine with rooms and courts on either side- thus evolved a house with a central street like effect with all art being displayed on the walls so that it could be appreciated as one walked by.
With this in mind, a Moroccan theme was adopted for the house to fit in within a contemporary framework- The focus being on achieving a harmonious marriage between the two. Arches, wood floors, stone paving, country tiled sloping roofs, wood plank window shutters, wrought iron work, country tile corbelling- all form part of the main vocabulary to be fitted within a modern home. A whole lot of antique railings, doors, windows, sleeper wood, and furniture were picked up and refurbished, thus incorporating the three R’s of Reuse, Reduce, Recycle in the building process. Verandahs, courts, water & bringing the outdoors inside were all incorporated to bring about the Moroccan essence to this home.
From the gate, one descends onto the wood floor porch from the steep driveway, which is set in between the 2 tiered sloped roofed bays and flanked by a transition court towards kitchen, garages & servants quarter. The swimming pool was added on the left side later as this strip of property was acquired later. Water is yet another element that connects the whole experience in this home. A secondary entry is created thus past by the pool, leading onto a wooden deck in a court flanked by water lily ponds, which in turns connects to the Moroccan triple arched foyer. This space connects to the formal living room through which can get glimpses of the river.
As one enters from the main porch through the 3 metre high arched door, one is awestruck by the double height lobby, the all-wooden first floor & the long vista beyond- upto the river. The guest bedrooms & the kitchen form the initial rooms on either side of this long lobby. Midway, the custom made metal and wood staircase punctuates this lobby on the right. Further one arrives to the dining & the casual living space for TV viewing- both overlooking the lily ponds & the infinity pool. The indoor- outdoor effect is the focus of these areas. At the end of the lobby is the formal living room with large glazed windows, and has the verandah on the other side where one can view the vast gardens, the river & the mangroves across.
Arriving at the first floor via the wood treads of the stair, it’s the wooden floor of the lobby that binds the experience together. This long lobby looks down to the double height entrance lobby at one end & the terrace overlooking the river view on the other- the walls decorated again by photographs, art de objects, designer furniture all along. This passage is flanked by the kids play room, bedrooms, a pantry, & private bedrooms and at the end overlooks the lily ponds on one side & has the master bedroom on the other, with the terrace as the focal point. Its almost a 180 degree view of the nature from this level.
The basic structure is a RCC framework due to large spans, while the walls are made of local laterite stone masonary. The full length of the lobby is made of local sal wood planks supported on sal wood beams. The RCC sloping roofs of are covered with country tile roof tiles- all sourced from various old Goan outhouses that had been demolished or run down. The corbelling edge of the roof was done in the typical old Goan house with country tiles to seal the edge & create an overhang for the rains. Other roofs are either made of wood or MS framework, on which the Mangalore tiles are laid directly. The window openings had 2 sets of shutters- sliding aluminium ones on the inside with wood plank ones on the outside. The construction was a hands – on site where everybody collaborated together.
As the construction was going on, it was a Moroccan style set of railings from an antique shop that caught the fancy of the client. It was used in a few openings, gates & in the interiors. The highlight of the common living spaces are the sleeperwood lined openings with old railings converted into vertical partitions fixed with an MS strap on the to & bottom. The sleeperwood is also clad over the beams & fits in the ceiling lights. The custom – made MS strap design was used further to make hinges for the wood plank door & window shutters. The strap was converted to a decorative railing- strap to hold the planks of the treads of the stairs, adding to the sculptural effect, which additionally has parts of old pieces of carvings fitted in landings. Pivoted partitions made of oyster shells, (traditionally used in windows of old Goan homes) is yet another custom made element used in the casual living room.
The client being an art collector and having an eye for design, each & every piece is juxtaposed very thoughtfully throughout the house. Each of the bedrooms has its own colour scheme & are decorated thus. The master bedroom has a rustic feel with the ridge lines of the ceiling fitted with coconut tree stems and concealed lights. Each toilet has a different scheme with old tables converted into counters. Various other custom-made details like the locking system of doors, parts of old furniture, etc, are all incorporated within the interiors.
Most of the jungle trees have been retained on the site. Kadappah stone has been laid in patterns to create pathways & local plants have been used as ground cover. The Moroccan bath & colours influence the swimming pool & the poolroom design. It’s finished in cast- in situ work & has an arched opening framed with 2 old painted wooden pillars. The infinity pool overflows into free form collection tanks all lined with rough kadappah stone. Further, down, the nullah & the mangroves are retained in the no development zone, while lawns, a little bridge and a jetty add charm to the riverfront.
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