The Courtyard House by Manoj Patel

The Courtyard House is a contemporary attempt of a minimalist residence located in Vadodara, India, designed in 2021 by Manoj Patel.

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Site context of 2200 square feet plot area resides in the dense core of Vadodara city’s hustle and bustle near the main airport area. The site faces a street on the south side. All other sides are surrounded by neighboring houses on the east and west side. The brief received was to find calmness in the chaos of daily life. The dwelling is designed for a family of a couple with three kids in which spaces are designed to cater to the daily needs that represent them to the new generation.

Façade weaves the story of a simple material palette which attracts the studio due to its varied profiles. Here the clay tiles are cut and interlocked each piece together in a way that explores wall hangings from the blue sky that addresses the white volumetric mass of the structure. The abode meets all climatic as well as all aesthetic needs of this humble inviting space. Surprising patterns in square graphics number up the parallel projections every moment during the day as per the sun’s rotation. These alignments continue inflow on the west surface of the wall. The material allows for cool air only to flow in through the pores.

The studio’s perspective was focused on climate responsive style keeping in mind the site surroundings. Experiencing the onsite situation we felt the need to bring natural outdoor landscapes inside the built envelope that allows them to enjoy surroundings uninterrupted without going out. This promotes well-being, health, and emotional comfort.

Architectural language for this soothing house adopts an open-air concept: new possibilities of living together in nature arose by creating inward-looking spaces, courtyards, and a visual connection. The passive cooling techniques benefit in turning down the prolonged use of air conditioning systems.

By inserting the green oasis in the built mass, an idea rose to divide the house according to the ancient principle of front and back house rooms. These functional spaces are articulated through a luminous core at the center of the house, which encases the spatial stairway. This layout creates a beautiful sequence of spaces, an interesting play of natural light and shadows to enhance the experience for the occupants. Each room is located around the courtyard with window openings so that the family members can feel united and interact from all levels.

On entering the house one is greeted with the opening planning concept that adorns the view of the courtyard through glass opening is another feature in this house. A casual seating towards the internal foyer with storage at the edges provides a pathway into the house. Further walking in, comes the large living room connected with dining, kitchen, and island platform. A barrier-free space that allows the owner of the house to enjoy interactions with her family while cooking food. The minimalistic interiors are a reflection of the client’s lifestyle.

Subtle white plastered surfaces and blue-hued tones are the base finishes, which contrast and complement the ground-level furniture theme of living with an open kitchen layout. Italian marble is used as the main flooring along with yellow Jaisalmer stone and black granite flooring for all connecting passageways and stairs.

A fresh and beautiful blue color palette adds to the elegance of kitchen space and courtyard across the huge sliding window in the living gives an outdoor dining experience. The living opens into the courtyard at the middle as well as acts as a buffer from the honking and shades the space from harsh heat rays. A small slit window above the lintel allows for sufficient light to penetrate in for bright daylight interiors.

Stepping out in the passage, one gets to enjoy two courtyards on both sides. One of the triple-height courtyards beholds the vision in its large clay art mural which radiates in various proportions of the circular grid. The beauty of the material is enhanced by adding hanging light features into it that create a mood-setting environment in the evening for a warm ambiance. Another court is set against a swing in its backdrop with light-painted walls complementing the artifacts, hanging plants, and soft music being played as per mood. At times the chirping of birds in the early hours of morning excites the owners to sit for hours in the open and celebrate the nature within the house. The biophilic elements capitalize on wellness and aim to integrate an eco-conscious system.

One of the master bedrooms on the ground floor is linked with a courtyard that treats for some resort ambient. The owners wanted to greet themselves with nature on waking up daily and have some fresh air flow during the day for relaxation. Transforming the identity of backdrops, an attempt to depict natural material palette on a wall, green textured tiles are juxtaposed with stone patterned tiles in curve forms to create large wall art. The feel of materials attracts the curiosity of viewers to feel it.

Traveling the staircase, one gets amused to see the flipping of symmetrical dog-legged steps that connect the above floors. An opportunity is generated to exhibit the robust height of stairs on the first flight while climbing. This gives one to communicate throughout till the second floor without any obstruction. The mid landing of the first flight works as a platform to sit around for some quiet time. Courtyards with skylights visually connect the sky by blurring the lines of the harsh sun.
Upon entering the daughter’s room on the first floor, one is delighted to see another exploration of backdrop in wall tiles that imitates random yet central composition of light and dark stripes in zebra pattern forms. The art accents the backdrop from adjacent walls. The large window opening can convert as a low height window seating for the daughter that opens towards the courtyard to enjoy nature, connect with her parents or simply sit and stare at the large clay wall art radial mural.

The passage corridor on the first floor has delicate and alternate patterns oriented as continuous floor mats from the same material of black stone with Jaisalmer stones embedded within for uniformity.
Taking the concepts of vernacular architecture and its therapeutic effects into the son’s bedroom, the backdrop showcases the use of two variations in earthy-toned clay tiles inlay work. The consecutive square pattern flows down from increasing to decreasing order seamlessly. Each new attempt meets a different perspective of craftsmanship that eliminates the conventional approach of clay compositions.

Son’s room opens up into a large terrace garden on the front elevation of the space, which sets a delightful sit-out space. This huge sliding ventilation opening on the southern façade resolves passive cooling systems and makes it more energy-efficient to operate. Wall continuing the bedroom backdrop shifts to another pattern inspired from the same vernacular material. This pattern weaves the story of intricate façade design details that tend to change its shadows based on the sun’s inclination throughout the day. The design nurtures the idea of a sustainable dwelling that responds to nature based on climatic context.

Continuing with the same experiential connections even the passage corridor on the second floor knits the language of flooring that generates curiosity of each pattern.
The lavish bedroom on the second floor adorns large modules of wooden grids evenly placed on the perpendicular wall by emphasizing only the bold depth of grooves. Backdrop appears to float on the wall due to its arrangement.

It connects with a Jacuzzi bath that adds to the excitement of owners to spend their relaxing weekends as a resort tranquil into their own residential abode for hours. To add a playful element to the backdrop of bath, clay tiles wall art with plant installation in the frame, with dark beige textured tiles and light blue textured tiles complete the composition in this resort spa space.

A contemporary attempt of minimalist architectural space that adopts the principles of tropical architecture and design. The dwelling acts as an insert between existing structures and nature. It promotes carbon positive and net-zero operations through smart planning of space.

Photography courtesy of MKG Studio

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- by Matt Watts