With the beginning of a new module and brief, we now started with designing an institution to be placed above the residential part of our childhood home. After a shot given to the designing process by a time problem exercise, we now need to understand how an institution could be integrated in a residence. So I visited the House of MG, a residence converted into a heritage hotel with restaurants, museums and shops selling ancient crafts. The house has been a monument of pride since the owner lived there as many personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Japanese Prime Minister, etc.
The house was restored in 2014 to achieve it’s present condition. The entrance to the house is a grand verandah which opens up into a foyer and reception area which used to be a office. Connecting to the foyer is a indoor pool (initially a bank), a waiting area displaying life of the owner, and a secondary foyer which opens into a shop selling handicrafts and the lift shaft and staircase. The foyers open into a courtyard with seating area surrounded with greens and then the rooms for stay. The indoor pool is based on lotus theme which opens to a corridor on one side connecting it to the restaurant and, on the other side a cozy courtyard. Each open space from terraces to courtyards are covered with plantations and fountains and artificial ponds. The movement and arrangement of spaces is articulated in a good manner where on arriving through staircase or entrance, one enters into a public space, then a semi-private space such as seating areas with restricted entry and then the private spaces i.e. the rooms. Along with this, the circulation is well articulated around the courtyards and terraces.
The openings like the windows, louvers, etc. are integrated very finely into the structure. The glass in the windows now was initially louvers. The seating areas opening into courtyards are covered with louvers above eye level. Also the rooms which are adjacent to courtyards have fixed louvers in upper and lower portions which there are movable louvers in the height of eye level and a few centimeters below it.
The museum and shop displays antiques, handicrafts and saree and shawl collection of the owner. The door of the shop opens right in front of the staircase, the landing there is tight and a dark space. Along with that some gestures like adding a corrugates aluminum sheet on top of courtyard disconnects the language of the house. While there are few elements which do not match the language, there are other elements like the switchboards which are preserved as original and has a flap covering it with a mirror on top. So when one sees it doesn’t look like a switchboard.
Its a great inspiration to start designing the institution in my own design of childhood home. The details of articulation of elements added later on along with the modern touch and how the existing furniture is modified is something which caught my attention.
As a start to refine the institution of my childhood home, I would try and match the language of a timber construction to match with the interiors, like large glass panels can be avoided and the scale of it could be broken down by using louvers or similar elements. The opening would be given a grandness to feel the space of an institution. Courtyards could be merged with the spaces around to feel more connected to it and not as a left out space. The arrangement of spaces could be changed to provide better circulation and use them efficiently. Some areas which are not useful for an institution and are there for continuing the same floor plan could be cutted or in some case may be changed.