Marbled: Adj. To be permeated with an intricate network of channels or veins (Chamiers English Dictionary)
A private residence for one of the citys largest suppliers of construction-grade stone, the clients background in high end materials and craftsmanship makes him deal with a whole host of citys architects everyday. Despite the obvious temptation for a tectonically driven project that draws on the elite exclusivity of such a material, his concern for a new interpretation of the material and the spaces that it could generate brought him and us together.
The buildings form becomes reminiscent of the stones that stack up inside the clients store yard. Stone blocks cleanly sheared into slabs by an industrial gangsaw, lean sawtooth against each other. Like bookends, they are propped up by a steel frame held in place under their own weight. The structure of the building draws upon the mutual reciprocity of such a system, as concrete frames are pinned down by slanted exterior stone walls of varying heights that they in turn support. Providing a naturally waterproof and long lasting exterior, niches left over by this careful stacking imbue the house with the nooks and crannies that accommodate the essential private functions that the living spaces must provide: from the sacred prayer alcove to the unsightly pipe runs.
As these polished stone exterior walls are acrobatically propped up, with a slight 2 incline they climb towards the sky. Given the clients access to a highly skilled manual workforce of local craftsmen, the subtly articulated detail design is surrendered to the finesse of the stonemasons expertise. The common local affinity with intricate carvings, jalis (thinly whittled stone screens) and an architecture that relies on a high quality of finish is reversed as the house makes use of the clients gargantuan ramshackle of mid-grade random off-cut pieces. Each wall is assigned a different type of discarded stone constituent, combining them in a heterogenous compsition to act as a navigational tool to aid the houses occupation.
Each plane becomes rough around its borders: Piled, hewn stone sheets serrate their crests as the fringe of each wall appears to striate into those in its background. The petrified life of the stones is revived by the shifting overlap of stark shadows that trace the vertical paving and crevices throughout the day.
Openings are punched through this seemingly precarious arrangement of enveloping walls only at the areas where the supporting concrete frames encircle their inner faces, its meter thickness casting even dark shadows over them. The living spaces benefit particularly from this treatment of openings: The invisible causeway that channels the sky through the master bedroom and the double height living expanse flows through such a portal out to the verandah and landscape beyond. The master bedrooms location straddling this particular vein enables it to unfurl into the rest of the house. It feels a connectedness with the house at large and exerts the maximum control over it, yet is afforded a detached privacy.
The houses interior is consolidated in the south west corner of the site, its footprint as slender as possible to maximize the open area for house to bleed into. Two perpendicular wings are formed as such; the first for living that greets one upon entry past the houses flank side and back on oneself, and a second private one housing the bedrooms. The bedrooms are insulated either side by a cushion of their ancillary spaces, WCs and dressing rooms, as this wing extends into the margins of the site to cap off the path leading to the house and form a hidden utility area.
Despite the apparent segregation that these moves appear to enforce, the house is organised so that areas wash into each other: This is generated by dissolving corners, resulting in the fusion of spaces as much in the vertical dimension as on the horizontal plane. This ensures the unimpeded provision of natural light and ventilation throughout the house, as undefined spatial crevices unite the basement level with the sky high above. The staircase cascades from the top to bottom of the house through the living spaces, epitomizing the idea of marbling the house with undeviating bands of spatial veins.
The Marbled House is situated in a quiet and leafy suburban corner plot in a gated community on the outskirts of the burgeoning city of Ahmedabad. It sits amongst a monotony of serried plots that play host to its residents meaningless exploits in forms and styles, to try to make their houses different from one other. A homogenous pulp of such an approach, The Marbled House seeks instead to set its autonomy in stone through a marriage between program, client and craft.