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Aiyar House
Aiyar House
Aiyar House
Aiyar House

Location: Delhi, India

Project Work Status: Completed Projects

Area: 3,500 Sq. Ft.

Project Completed: 1998

The house is sited on a plotted development in New Delhi (India). It was the first house to be built on the street and took six months to complete. The west facing site which measures 125'-0"(on the north and south sides) by 85'-0"(on the east and west sides) lacked any of the civic amenities (water, sewage and electric connections) that the rest of the city enjoys. All this had to be provided for.

The program was very simple: to house three generations of a family with three adult daughters, a member of Parliament (the equivalent of the senate in the U.S.), his wife, and their dog, a mongrel.

The proposal for the house stems from an understanding of the social context within which it is situated. Exorbitant real estate prices coupled with a strong tradition of 'joint' family dwelling (different generations, and often even the extended family living in the same house) have forced many families to opt to live together again. Unlike the traditional family 'haveli' however, its modern counterpart is bound by the pressing demands of young adults trying to establish an individual identity for themselves while simultaneously having to continue to provide the space and means for community living.

The reconciliation of individual identity within community living occurs in the courtyard, which is the principal spatial organizational element of the house. The 'public' and 'private' spaces of the house are placed opposite each other, thereby forcing the residents to actively engage the central courtyard. Each of the three identical bedrooms is accessed through two doors that open into the courtyard. These 'private' entrances establish the individuality of the dwellings that reside behind it. However, each room is not completely autonomous. The three bedrooms (and the master bedroom) are inter - connected by means of a series of parallel doors. When all of these doors are open they work collectively as an internal corridor, when any one of the residents closes the door associated with their room the chain breaks.

Furthermore, the 'private' entrances open into a foyer that leads directly in to one of the two bathrooms that the three bedrooms share. (The bedrooms are located on either side of the 'private' entrances with the bathroom directly opposite it. See plan.) This arrangement was adopted to serve two purposes. First it effectively reduces the number of bathrooms required from three to two. (This was a major consideration since the project was built on a shoe string budget.) Secondly, visitors do not need to go through any of the bedrooms to use a bathroom thereby ensuring that the privacy of the family remains intact.

The Living and Dining rooms flank the opposite side of the courtyard. Relatively spacious (40'-0"x 18'-0") the two areas are segregated by four carved wooden columns. Large windows throughout the house (6'-0" x 5'-0" casement windows) establish visual continuity, maintaining the sense of community throughout. A large verandah and the master bedroom mediates between the Living areas and the Bedrooms on the west while a study / grand mothers room mediates them in the east. The courtyard is the houses muse. It accommodates within and around it an implicit understanding of post - colonial domestic life in India something that was achieved by recognizing and articulating the relationship between young adults, aging parents and grand parents.