Brick Mask House / Spacefiction Studio

Text description provided by the architects. The house, nestled in an acre of grid planted mango trees, was to serve as a secluded retirement home for a couple, away from the chaotic city life. None of the existing twenty year old mango trees were removed. Instead, the house weaves itself around these trees, creating a multitude of experiences.

The peripheral walls of the house are made up of local wire cut bricks, with interjecting layers of exposed cement lintels. This is a conscious attempt to blur the insides and outsides even further. The perforations are controlled depending on the space it divides or encompasses. When lit by the sun, they transfer ever changing shadows to the inside and when back lit, they offer a playful hint of what is happening behind them. This jaali wall’s presence is felt from all the areas of the house. There is no façade to the building from the outside. The brick layer is the only hint of the house, seen as a backdrop behind the trees, and vice-versa.

Brick Mask House / Spacefiction Studio

The Brahmasthala (heart of the house), is an open to sky courtyard. All sides are enveloped by the brick façade, from which glass projection boxes protrude around the existing trees. One is constantly aware of the large, looming mango trees through sound of them swaying in the wind, or the large perforated shadows that they cast. The traditional granite south Indian temple statues and the sound of water from the temple spouts of Mahabalipuram fill the central courtyard with a sense of spiritual serenity. The north pergolas cast long, transitioning shadows on the stone-clad walls and a large pool below it.

The house is made up of two wings, connected by a double height space. The entry door leads to the east wing, which has a drawing room, beside a water court housing a mango tree. The puja corridor leads to a pebble court, also accommodating an existing tree. A shaded wooden deck with a swing is opposite this. The other west wing houses two bedrooms and a study in between. These are accessed through a long corridor, which is made into a gallery of paintings and sculptures on pedestals. The morning eastern sun casts varying shadows on this wall through the perforated, brick façade. The whole wall receiving this light is finished with yellow stucco lime plaster and brass knobs fit on a grid.

The two bedrooms on the top are accessed through the stairs in the central, double height area. A brass and brick accent wall encloses the staircase. A bridge connecting the two also accommodates a bar area and sitout. Throughout the length of the bridge, is a planter with light raining from on above. A long window cuts above the south wall, which offers a view of the lake from afar while walking over the bridge.

The ceilings are exposed concrete. The flooring is primarily Italian marble, with pockets of handmade cement tiles laid in a pattern. Accent walls of different areas are finished with different shades of lime plaster. Teak wood, brass accents and glass make up the rest of the material palette.