Hiren Patel Architects have designed the Courtyard House in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

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Description from Hiren Patel Architects

This house is in newly developed outskirts of Ahmedabad. Two bedrooms downstairs, for the parents and guests. Two bedrooms upstairs for the young couple and their primary school-going children. And lots of glass windows. Yes ,to enhance views and bring nature indoors. So Hiren does exactly what one would expect, given Ahmedabad’s scorching summers. The glass is mostly on the north or east, while the west and south are either walled off, or have wide verandahs with 7 ft overhangs to control the sun while permitting views, ’We calculated the angle of the harsh afternoon sun is blocked,’ he says .And the verandahs get used by the family whenever the weather permits it. ’I’m not against air-conditioners, but a balance is needed,’ says Hiren.

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The focal point of the courtyard is the wall with the Buddha. ’We ended up with some pockets, so we decided to install a Buddha with a wooden backdrop,’ says Hiren. The wall behind is a boundary wall, so it was simply elevated for privacy. On its surface, a triangular wooden grid is interspersed with a metallic, backlit one in a delicate lacy design, to create an ambience of sheer magic.

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In the bedrooms, the first rays of the morning sun stream in, like a clarion call for the occupants. In fact, in the master bedroom, large clerestory windows wrap around the ceiling.’ You can’t do much sleeping in even on a Sunday afternoon, because the rooms don’t get dark enough,’ says Hiren. And this has been created explicitly, by design! Remember what I said earlier, about Hiren ‘imposing’ on the clients? Evidently, Hiren believes in being up at the crack of dawn…and then working through the day. No lazing around here! ‘if one is exhausted enough, light makes no difference,’ says Hiren. ‘One of my friends once told me to sleep at a railway station at night, to be in touch with reality. I do all kinds of projects-high end, ashrams slum rehabs any many which involve recycling materials- so there is a balance in my work. I get deeply involved in my projects, even at a psychological level. In this home, for instance, one of my concerns was that the children shouldn’t get spoilt, growing up in an atmosphere like this.’ And how has he ensured this? ‘not in any forceful way. But being surrounded by so much greenery, I think people imbibe lessons from nature itself,’ he says.

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Special features: The clear water reflecting pools were originally meant to be just that-shallow water bodies which would reflect the building. ‘ But we found that the children were jumping into them, so we decided to install water filters for hygiene, ‘ says Hiren. And all the bathrooms on the ground floor have courtyards, while the ones on the upper floor have skylights. The master bath has a wooden screen to which Hiren has extended his design chutzpah. The ‘bird’ rocking horse in the verandah was a serendipitous find, while the wooden peacock in the garden was specially commissioned, as was the carved sandstone ‘ball’ in a leaf design. The ‘boulder’ al fresco table in black granite was specially installed. The wooden strips on the elevation of the first floor function as both sunscreen and ventilation, while providing an aesthetically pleasing sight… there are many design savvy touches throughout the home, which differentiate it from the ordinary.

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Architecture: Hiren Patel Architects

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