Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Invigorating open spaces

Your bedroom, dining hall or kitchen may serve specific purposes, but if you need to romanticise your space, foyers, courtyards, patios, open courts and terrace are what you should consider.

OPEN TO DESIGN: Beginning with the entrance, wide and open spaces lend themselves to some excitement in planning.

You may sleep in your bedroom, eat in your dinning hall, cook in your kitchen, or bathe within your bathrooms... these spaces would serve only specific requirements but are not sufficient to weave poetry into your building. Spaces like the entrance verandah, foyers, entrance forecourts, internal courts, rear-courts, patios, open terraces and balconies may sound ostentatious, but these areas actually help you get closer to nature.
Entrance spaces
Entry spaces should be characterised to welcome visitors with a special take on security aspects attached to it. Entry spaces can be accentuated by:
a) Entrance Forecourt: It is a landscaped court mostly used to cordon the residence building and the main road. It serves the purpose of making the site greener and also from the security point of view, any stranger from the street won't be able to monitor the activity happening inside the house. The forecourts need not be landscaped with plants and trees but can also have a Japanese garden with sculptured rocks and water bodies.
b) Entrance Verandah and Foyer: The entrance verandah and the foyer are primarily ante spaces which can be used to entertain a person coming in or make the everyday user happy when he is passing through it. It can be made all the more interesting by getting in an unusual double height in a tight floor print or by using accentuated opening with a mix of good textured materials. When using textured materials like flamed granite or sandstones, it is advisable to see that lighting is well controlled to produce the best effects. A slit opening in the wall or the ceiling that throws light on the stone wall would be ideal.
The internal room arrangements signify the user's lifestyle, more so the positioning of the courts (both internal and external), which in turn defines the flow pattern in a residence. As discussed earlier, the courts can be segregated as forecourts, internal courts (central and boundary or linear courts) and rear courts. Internal court can be further divided as
* Central Courts: They are centrally locked inside the house and can be accessed from within the house. Due to its central location, these courts would also serve as transition spaces and hence the landscaping has to be done accordingly. The rain water which is falling in the court can be drained off using concealed 10" diameter pipes or heavy duty PVC pipes which are to be embedded in the courtyard floor.
* Boundary or Linear Courts: A court when provided along the compound wall and the side of the building can be defined as boundary court. While planning for such courts the maintenance and security aspects have to be carefully looked into. For the maintenance part, the court needs to have a good drainage system (a 10" stone ware or heavy duty PVC pipe can be provided) and it would be easier if the gardener can access it directly from outside. As for the security aspect, cordoning the court with grills or trellis on either side and a pergola above would not only help remove the grills from the door and the windows that lead to the courtyard but also provide a good play of sun and shade. Pergolas can be made of stone, pre cast in reinforced cement concrete (RCC) and can also be made with wood but with a metal rod running inside.
* Balconies, Open Terraces, Patios: Open terraces and balconies have been discussed in our earlier articles. The concept of cascading terraces not only enlarges garden views of the court below, but also enables a terrace user to see more landscaping and a bind better with nature.
In smaller sites where the garden area in the ground level is less, this type of cascading terraces can be used in the mezzanine level, in the first floor and also in the second floor terrace area. These terrace balconies are to be water proofed properly in order to prevent leakage.
The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai

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