Observing and Implementing

Having had completed the design of our new childhood home, it was time to now go further in our new module of expanding this house into an institution. The time problem done over he past one week had given me some idea of how the house we built as a private residence for a family could now become a space that could be used by the neighbourhood and the community. To get better clarity of the same, I visited The House of MG, which is a boutique heritage hotel in Ahemdabad. It was the home for Sheth Mangaldas Giridhardas, a notable philanthropist and businessman, and four generations later, his family has converted his residence into a refurbished heritage hotel.

As soon as you enter the hotel, you instantly forget about the surroundings- the chaos of the traffic and crowd right outside. The House of MG does not only provide accommodation for guests, but also has many amenities such as an indoor swimming pool, museum, textile shop and restaurants among others. Even in terms of architecture, this building is brilliant- there are well thought out waiting areas, transition spaces, foyers, circulations stairways, terrace gardens and courtyards. It is interesting to see how the family has converted the pre-existing spaces into what the spaces are currently used for. The indoor pool was initially a bank and the indoor seating area for the restaurant on the ground floor used to be where the horse-driven buggies were once parked.

Architecturally, though there are a lot of spaces and circulation spaces in The House of MG, a common language and style of the building has been maintained throughout. There are high ceilings, many with jack arches, and big openings that easily connect the interior with the courtyards and surrounding landscape. In this building, I also noticed how beautifully the architect had blended different materials like timber, glass, terracotta etc. One important thing that I noticed here are the transition spaces. Each transition space has been executed in such a manner that it creates an experience in itself. For example, the passage connecting all the rooms is oriented around a courtyard, so one can look down into the vegetation and activities happening in the courtyard anytime from the corridor. Also, the waiting spaces on each floor once you exit the lift are in the middle of two courtyards, so it enjoys views on both sides and the furniture used i.e. sofas and swings, also give the viewer an invitation to pause and enjoy the beauty in and around the space. Each space is ornamented with mirrors, paintings and accessories such as vases, flowers, photographs etc. There are more than one terraces too- one has been converted into an open-to-sky seating space, another into a restaurant, and the rest into terrace gardens. Standing on these terraces, you can see the busy street bursting with traffic below and other areas nearby.

Just like The House of MG, my next exercise is to convert my house into a community space or institution. While walking through The House of MG, apart from looking at its beauty, I tried looking for architectural features that I could try to implement in the institution I was going to design. My house is situated in a similar setting, in a very busy locale that witnesses chaos at all hours and also provides all facilities that one may need for their day-to-day functioning. However, what I noticed was that my neighbourhood lacked a library and a common space to play indoor games. Knowing the fast-paced city Mumbai is, the neighbourhood would really benefit with the presence of these amenities which would be used by all age groups. Also, having noticed the crowd at every food store at any given time, it is evident that the people in my neighbourhood share a common love for food, yet lack a café where they can sit nd eat properly, which would also be incorporated in my institution. Inspired by The House of MG, I would try to incorporate high ceilings to give a more spacious feel, and large openings that enable interaction between two spaces. Also, in terms of material, since my childhood home was made of concrete, I would try to incorporate wood in the institution in the roof or other aspects that betters the nature of inhabitation in the spaces. Further, realizing how important transition spaces are, I would try to incorporate an experience in the walkways, passages or stairs used.

I look forward to designing and experimenting with different architectural techniques as I break away from the confines of my childhood home and expand it into an institution for the people of my neighbourhood and others.

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