Vrindavan: An abode

Gauri Satam and Tejesh Patil


The 1,000 sq.ft retirement home was built by unTAG as an extension of the trees that surround it.

Vrindavan is a modest 1,000 sq.ft farmhouse, nestled within a 2.5 acre farm. It is a retirement home for a couple in their 60s, in their native village, Ozram, Maharashtra.

Vrindavan sits on a quiet farm treasured by the duo over the past 15 years with plantations of mango, cashew, chickoo, jackfruit, and palms. Their brief was, a humble abode close to nature. Their only constraint, a budget of Rs.10 lakh (appx. 15,000 USD).

Gauri Satam & Tejesh Patil, principal architects of unTAG, aspired to design an indigenous cost effective house, where experience of inhabiting was to be prioritised over a monumental form.

“On our first site visit, we found a dead mango tree on a well-defined 20 feet grid of mango and chickoo plantation. Instinctively, we felt the house would sit perfectly here, within a dense grove, opening up to a distant hillock view,” they said.

The living room and bedroom merge into one, giving a sense of a bigger modular living space. The entry to the house is marked through a thin, see-through vestibule, connecting the main house to the kitchen. The kitchen has a service court for the desi chullah (a rural hob). The house gradually steps down, following the site topography, concluding into a 14’ high, ridged volume of the verandah, offering a sunset view behind the mountains.

Chira (laterite), a cost-effective indigenous stone procured from a quarry 3 kms away, is the body of the house. It keeps the internal temperature 4-5 degrees lower than the outdoors, also withstanding the fierce westerly monsoons.

Shade was ensured through large overhangs from locally available terracotta roof tiles. The door-windows were crafted from salvaged local teak and jackfruit wood, bought at a nominal price, by reusing the rafters of a nearby dismantled old Hindu temple. The floor and internal walls have been lined with Indian Kotahstone.

unTAG is a unison of two contrasting personalities, Gauri and Tejesh, graduates from Sir JJ College of Architecture. For unTAG every project is unique and needs a SPECIFIC design solution, SENSITIVE to its context. The duo feel that the most difficult thing to achieve in design is simplicity.