Surrendering to Nature

A farmhouse by definition should take one back to the basics, into the belly of nature. This abode near Nagpur does that by blending its hues, interiors, tilt and form with its surroundings.

“The main challenge in this design was to explore and create, in today’s fast paced, stress-ridden and volatile atmosphere, an environment that would bring about an empathetic bonding with nature. A space which would not only help in calming one’s nerves, but also nurture and rejuvenate the inhabitants to face this world with renewed positive energy,” state the designers of Sudha and Sukesh Gandhi’s farmhouse at Wakeshwar near Nagpur, Maharashtra.

To achieve this nuanced effect, the architect team chose to involve and integrate the beautiful pre-existing Banyan and Behada trees at the site into the new design. “Inspite of the client’s wish to shift the construction elsewhere, it was felt that these trees must become integral parts of the farmhouse. By spreading their branches, they not only provide the desired shade and coolness, but also spread cheerful empathy and healing energy,” explains the team.

So the farm-house came up around the main Banyan tree, allowing each space in the house to converse with it. This tree then started a dialogue with the Behada tree through an axial lap pool that was created between them. A refreshing ambience is created by breaking the rigid boundaries between the enclosed spaces and the open spaces.

Entry into the house is through a narrow covered passage placed on the north-south axis of the Banyan tree. As one emerges from this passage, the Banyan reveals itself in all its glory, seeming to open up right in front of one’s eyes. To the left side is the landscaped court with the lap pool, while the Behada tree stands at the other end. To the right is the semi-open verandah, serving as a precursor to the main living-cum-dining spaces.

 The experience at this entry point is multi-sensory. We hear the gurgling of a water stream joining the gentle rustle of the Banyan leaves and the chirping of birds. We inhale the scents of the plants and the flowers, and feel the westerly breeze on our skin. The rough-hewn stone flooring in this courtyard massages the soles of our feet.

The architect felt that this house could not be just plonked as an alien element on the site but had to be rooted in the soil, and also grow out of it. Thus the house gradually rises right from the ground on the southern and the western sides in a tapering form. The ochre-skinned boulders obtained on this site were used for the major masonry walls. They helped further in visually blending the house with the site and also made the abode more eco-friendly with reduced embodied energy and greater insulation. Their rugged natural appearance is also low-maintenance.

The surrounding landscaping avoids forced, formal, artificial layouts in order to create a more natural environment. The interiors also have been designed to gel with the overall rustic character.

One feels a joyous, calming transformation in one’s inner self while experiencing this home’s aura. “This can happen only when we are able to connect to our roots, to Mother Nature,” states the team.