The House with a Brick Veil is a residence built within a chaotic neighbourhood in Jangpura, Central Delhi. Built for a retired couple seeking a calm space for themselves and two smaller flats for their married children with families, the challenge arose in creating a virtual oasis in the current context of the dense urban jungle wherein the house was sited.
The surroundings offer very little by way of views except for a few scattered trees and residential rear faades. The design had to account for the traffic noise build up given its envelope of major and secondary roads and the large movement of people along the feeder road that the plot faced. The dilemma came from the fact that the best light for the plot also provided the worst views, which implied buffering living spaces away from the south east face, yet getting in the south winter sun from the same.
The team rendered the design as a clear translation of the intent for the conservative clients: developing a contemporary response that centred on the possibility of openness without compromising on privacy. In keeping with the tradition of brick masonry in the region, the building was conceived as a brick masonry structure with a high thermal mass maximizing daylight and minimizing solar gain. Sections have been configured in a manner that they respond to potential views from the house. The layout for the 10,000 sqft residence utilizes the maximum permissible built up area - with the top two floors combined as a duplex and the lower two floors as independent units. The plan pushes the building backwards into the site to extract courtyards and wraps a skin around itself as a buffer between the home and the city. This thick brick wall cloaks the house as a veil, both acoustically and visually; floating away from it at times to comprise intimate spaces for light and ventilation while filtering the neighbourhood. The geometry of openings in the outer skin follow a geometry independent of the fenestration of each floor thereby allowing a hit-and-miss line of sight through them - juggling privacy and views.
A responsive manifestation of its milieu and requirements, the design coursed many explorations ultimately splitting its open volume in two with a central core of living spaces. A fluid structuring of spaces around it expands the compact house with rooms expanding flexibly and seamlessly. Small terraces are pulled into the house, flowing out from either side of the central living spaces into the twin courts to serve as small gardens. The palette juxtaposes exposed concrete slabs with the white volume, finished partly in lime and paint, inside the brick veil. The raw simplicity of materials is accentuated with detailing such as cast in situ terrazzo floors with brass inlay and stained glass inserts in the brick veil. A specially-designed metal staircase with customized railing developed in rope adds uniqueness to the space. The use of crafted doors, window frames and railings from the client's collection layers art into the canvas of the building.
Dense plantation on the multiple terraces adds a soft layer of screening in the constructed volume opened out to three of its four sides. The creation of these green multiple stories above the ground creates a floating landscape and helps in shading and improves the views from within and without. It makes the house breathe and grants it the porosity to select elements of its surroundings.