Connecting Roots - Sudha & Sukesh Gandhi's Farmhouse, Nagpur

The flow of space, energy and form in this Farmhouse has been created by breaking rigid boundaries between enclosed spaces and the open spaces

Gandhi Farmhouse Wakeshwar Nagpur

The design and layout of this farmhouse successfully creates an environment that fosters a close connect between the inhabitants and the surrounding Nature. Set amidst sylvan surroundings, the building exudes an energy that nurtures and rejuvenates the inhabitants with renewed vigour. To achieve this, the architect took care to integrate the beautiful Banyan tree and the Behada tree in the design. In fact, the trees appear as an integral part of the farmhouse as they are seen spreading their branches over and around the building to provide shade and coolness, and a strong, positive energy.

Gandhi Farmhouse
Ochre skinned boulders available on the site were used for constructing the major masonry walls to create a visual blending of the house with the natural elements

Gandhi Farmhouse Nagpur
Man-made spaces flow seamlessly into the natural spaces through large openings, and use of planters and water bodies

The house, built around the Banyan tree as the central focus, allows each space in the house to converse with it, and the other Behada tree through the creation of an axial lap pool between them. The flow of space, energy and form is created by breaking rigid boundaries between enclosed spaces and the open spaces, compelling one to wonder whether the house is in the garden or the garden is in the house!

Gandhi Farmhouse Bedroom
The bedrooms open onto landscaped spaces while the large square windows seem to frame the Banyan tree to create a picture perfect view

The architect was conscious that the house must not appear as an alien element, rather, it had to be rooted in the soil, be a part of the surroundings and seem to grow out of it. So, one sees the house gradually rising from the ground in a tapered form on the south and west. Man-made spaces blend with the natural spaces symbiotically with the use of large openings, and use of planters, water bodies, etc. In fact, the bathrooms too have an integral landscaped planter inside to make the bathing experience more refreshing.

Project: Farmhouse
Location: Wakeshwar, Nagpur
Client: Sudha & Sukesh Gandhi
Architect: Shirish Beri & Associates, Kolhapur
Interior Design: Vinita Agge, Nagpur
Landscaping: Kavita Ahuja, Delhi

Gandhi Farmhouse Shirish Beri Associates

The old approach driveway to the farmhouse was completely changed in the layout of the building. It now leads to the house through a sweet lime plantation. Coming through this new, meandering road, the farmhouse reveals itself in the end as a wondrous surprise.

One enters the main building through a narrow, covered passage on the north–south axis of the Banyan tree. As one emerges from the passage, the large, impressive tree reveals itself in all its glory. On the left is a landscaped court with the lap pool and a view of the Behada tree on the other end. On the right is a semi-open verandah...a precursor to the main living and dining spaces.

The experience at this entry point is not only visually appealing but pleasant to the ears as well. One can hear the gurgling of a water stream coming through the house from the other side amidst the rustle of the Banyan leaves and chirping birds. One is also assailed by the sweet smell of flowers and the cool westerly breeze on the skin. The rough hewn courtyard flooring massages the soles of the feet. On the perpendicular axis to the narrow passage, the architect has crafted a primitive shrine with a primordial form of a stone dome. The glimpse of a lamp burning inside the shrine while approaching the verandah, is a warm welcome.

Sudha Sukesh Gandhi Farmhouse

Farmhouse Nagpur

The trees, flora and foliage outside are visible from all the rooms inside; the inhabitants never lose contact with their beautiful surroundings. The great Banyan tree can also be seen from almost all the interior spaces as it partially overlaps the roof and spreads onto the terraces. The doors and windows too harbour reflections of the natural world outside. The living-dining spaces flow onto the courtyard on one side and the lawn and garden on the other. The bedrooms open out onto landscaped spaces, while the large square windows seem to frame the Banyan tree to create a picture perfect view.

Sudha Gandhi Farmhouse

The living and dining spaces on the ground floor further rise up to merge with the overlooking indoor balcony of the master bedroom on the first floor. This allows for easy interaction between the people on the ground floor and those on the first floor. The indoor balcony opens out on a small terrace that is caressed by the branches of the Banyan tree. The master bedroom also has a private terrace, which could house a Jacuzzi, if desired. While nature abounds outside, the interiors have been kept in sync with the surroundings, but are yet modern and contemporary with the latest gadgets, modular kitchen, etc.

The most significant feature of the building is its eco-friendly construction and sustainability. The shade of the trees, the water bodies, thick stone masonry and the landscaped greens all contribute towards keeping the temperature in this house considerably low. Ochre skinned boulders available on the site were used for constructing the major masonry walls. They create a visual blending of the house, making it eco-friendly, with reduced embodied energy and greater insulation. The rugged natural appearance of the walls is also maintenance-free.

The landscaping is natural, without use of formal, artificial layouts. The plants have been selected carefully and as per the climate and soil in the site. The overall effect is harmony with the main theme of the building. The interiors too bring out the rustic character of the farmhouse with the use of rough hewn wood, hemp and cane, with the furnishings of organic fabrics. Rustic flooring and unpolished, rough plaster on the walls further add to the ambience.