“Besides being a response to site, climate, available resources, and brief etc., architectural and interior designing should be contextual to the culture and life style of the society and a catalyst in sensitizing good aesthetic values”, considers Rajeev Sathe.
An acclaimed architect, Rajeev Sathe, graduated from Academy of Architecture, Mumbai in the year 1979. He was a visiting faculty at the Academy of Architecture for 28 years. An alumni of Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, Sathe got his early work experience with stalwarts like Charles Correa and Uttam Jain. In 1984, he set up a private practice along with his wife Suvarna, a landscape architect. The studio Sathe Architects offers consultancy in architecture, interior design, and landscaping. Architecture projects at his firm included schools, laboratories, private houses, guest houses, apartment buildings, housing and office building, while interior projects varied from boutiques, retail stores, offices, residential and restaurants & hotels.
In conversation with Gallopper, Rajeev shares Sathe Architects’ project experience for the House at Alibaug.
The house, consisting of 4 bedrooms, a living and dining area, along with the kitchen, is located on a 3 acre land at Alibaug, Maharashtra. With agricultural fields all around, it was imperative to design a house which rooted in the environment and not imposed on it. The climate at Alibaug is tropical with heavy rains during monsoon season and high humidity with temperature touching 36 degrees in summer, the winters being moderatly cool.
A spread out plan with the different built forms connected visually and physically with open corridors, pergolas and water. This enabled the inside and outside to intermingle and respond also to the climate. The house evolved around the central pergola courtyard ‘aangan’ and a swimming pool. One could visually or physically, from any location in the house, be and feel the outside along with the security and comfort of being inside – this coupled with the play of shade and tranquility of water as a backdrop.
The built forms were rendered with an earthy yellow which also complemented the greens around. An otherwise orthogonal building was contrasted with the curve form of the swimming pool and hard cape outside. Using conventional system of construction and standard building materials was practical from an execution point of view and being within budget. Hence RCC framed structure with local bricks was used.
The central pergola courtyard ‘aangan’, around which the house revolves, was paved with dressed black stone from Kolhapur in Maharashtra. This created an ambience of a temple courtyard. The swimming pool water in proximity contrasted and complemented it in color and texture. The same stone in random form was used for two walls in the living and dining area, executed by master craftsman from Latur in Maharashtra.
Sathe feels that three features which made the design of this house special were:
• The central pergola courtyard ‘aangan’ and the swimming pool in close proximity, though open, has a secure feel as it is tucked within the built form on three sides, keeping it cool and shaded for most part of the day.
• The swimming pool was designed as an overflow pool. The result being that the central pergola courtyard ‘aangan’ and the landscape formed a continuous unbroken plane along with the sheet of water of the swimming pool. This helped smoothening with the transition from inside to outside making it borderless. The one open side of the swimming pool was oriented towards the existing thick group of banyan trees. The swimming pool with its three sides enveloped by the built form had its fourth side contained by these banyan trees. The spatial feel thus achieved while in the water was of total security in spite of the openness.
• The spread out plan facilitated planning large openings. This not only brought the outside in but made the house cool and breezy because of cross ventilation, so essential in tropical climates.
Winner of JK Award in 1993 and Alumni Award from Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture in the Year 1995, and on the Executive Committee of Institute of Indian Interior Designers for three terms, Sathe has been a prolific figure on the scene of Indian Architecture and Design. Sathe has showcased some stunning work, displaying his well defined sensitivity to space, structure, culture, climate and context.