Airavat, a “home in the clouds,” is a new creation by reD Architects on the outskirts of Mumbai that casts a striking complement to its natural surroundings.
Amidst arid hills and palm trees, Airavat is a picture perfect stack of cement, stone, steel and glass, complete with an infinity pool angling out from underneath a cantilevered floor of the house. Inside, the stone and cement walls continue to the interior of the space. A couch is suspended by rope from a catwalk on the second floor.
A reading nook is thoughtfully integrated into a wall with a window view of the grounds. It contains the entertainment space of the house suspended between the common spaces to the north and the personal quarters to the south. This allows the natural topography of the site to flow underneath without having to be altered.
The site is in the quiet Sahyadri Hills, offering expansive views of the Western Ghats in almost any direction. The front view was inspired by the image of a “lotus pod that breathes in a freshness on entering after a long drive out of the city.”
The house was made of entirely local materials. The heavy cement overhang creates a surprisingly welcome parking area near the front of the home. Inside, the materials used for the structure of the house are on full display and not softened for the viewer, which gives the impression of sitting in a renovated stone ruin or perching over the landscape from the vantage point of a fortress. Exposed steel beams cross at angles in the windows, celebrating the steel and glass style of the structure.
In fact, Airavat is as sustainable throughout as it is beautiful. There is a rain reservoir that holds 350,000 liters, and all terrace and surface drains are channeled toward the borewells that collect water in this reservoir. Stones from the building site were used to create retaining walls, and the natural topography of the site was followed to reduce disruption of the ecosystem and backfilling.
All of this unique, intricate planning creates a triangular courtyard at the center of the home, angled between wings of the building. Here is where the glass and steel used for the public living space and the slate used in private spaces meet together in a concrete spine. ReD Architects says this creates the impression that “as you move through the house, you feel as though the house moves along with you.”
Photography by Fabien Charuau