Location: New Delhi, Delhi, India
Area: 18000 Sf
The ridge is a northern extension of the ancient Aravalli Mountain Range in North India, some 1500 million years old, consisting mostly of quartzite rocks. It extends from the Southeast, branching out in places and tapers off in the north on the west bank of the river Yamuna. The client previously occupied a small two storey house on the site that abutted a large outcrop at the rear, rising almost 25?. Current byelaws permit a six storey building on the land, with four of the upper floors being residential while lower floors can be used for parking, services and storage.
While the left side of the site was hedged in with a 50? high party wall, the right side opened up into a central garden carved out by the neighbours who happened to be architects. We were sure we wanted to preserve the quality of light in their house, so our building outline closely follows theirs, inverting it to create a double shared courtyard. Each of the residential floors was treated differently to extract the maximum buildable volume while ensuring plenty of open space, light and ventilation. The ground floor was split into two smaller apartments arranged around the courtyard with independent access from the parking level. The floor above it reduces in size and being a single apartment meant for the grandparents, it benefited by getting a large terrace at the sun facing rear. The third residential level was meant for renting out to tenants, while the two bedroom penthouse on the top floor was to be occupied by the client whenever he would be in the country.
Creating a six storey building on a foundation of pure rock was one of the immediate challenges of this project. Unable to use hydraulic splitters or explosives due to the residential neighbourhood, we were forced to rely on manual labour to excavate large portions of the foundations. The sheer mass of the rock meant that no retaining wall would be needed and the decision was taken to leave the stone surfaces exposed in the interiors of the basement, simultaneously lighting them from above through slits in the parking level. Driven by the pleasing aesthetic of the reddish colour of the stone, the exteriors were given a similar treatment. The exposed concrete structure forms the background to a number of delicate stone screens, offset by the dark aluminium windows.