Unremarkably Remarkable

Sanjeev Panjabi And Sangeeta Merchant


In the Mandvi House, the myriad design elements come together to establish both cooler climes and substantial privacy for the residents.

The balance between old ideas and new inspirations began with the material use. The team eschewed the traditional use of timber in favour of concrete, further underlining the structure’s unassuming nature. The body of the building is completely clad in locally procured ‘Khavda’ stone, which has a worn and pitted texture; this feature resonates with the worn building bastions of what used to be a major port in the Gujarat of the yesteryears.

From the outside in, focus has been on introducing a sense of calm solidity, a facet that is complemented by the low-clutter quality of the interiors. White lime plaster adorns the walls and ceilings, while white ‘Bhaswara’ marble, specially sourced from Rajasthan, dominates the flooring. To amplify the verticality of the structure and open up as much space as possible, all storage units have been pushed into the walls.

Timber has been strategically brought into the scheme in the form of an expansive jaali cover that splits the strong natural light and unleashes a carpet of whimsical shadows across the interiors. This effect takes on magical tints in the stairwell shaft, where the glass surfaces, concrete steps, and the hanging lamps seem to be playing parts in an elaborate shadow themed performance.

A beautiful terrace is hugged by an open-to-the-sky fence of timber jaali. The tall mullions ensure privacy to the terrace revelers, while affording them plenty of breeze and filtered sunlight.They can also look out and soak in the unique sights of the city around.

The Mandvi House is a testament to how restraint in design can achieve functional, elegant structures that harmoniously complement their sites. In a constricted space, the SPASM designers have introduced little elements of colour, like the bright blue wall that looks across to the stairwell. The solid structure protects the home against seismic disturbances as well as extreme weather conditions.

It is a project that manages to combine multiple facets and make them a remarkable whole. This visual language could indeed help inform the modern re-imagination of old towns across the entire country.