The Lucknow Project – A Modern Mansion In Disguise

Four buildings were purchased in Lucknow city to create one whole plot for a single new luxury home. The build site is situated along a busy arterial road, and neighboured on three sides by a tightly packed development of private homes. Therefore, a large home would have seemed out of place, or perhaps even brash. To combat this, Sanjay Puri Architects broke this bespoke home design into pieces: Split living spaces and sleeping volumes were imagined, to cut channels to a large courtyard for a blissful through-breeze. Decorative screens based on traditional ‘chikan’ embroidery were installed to visually fragment the modern home exterior further, and serve purpose in shading the interior from the searing sun.

Lucknow city in India is a place of rich heritage, with a number of historical buildings dating back to the 18th century. Traditional buildings in the city burst with towering archways on a terrific scale that dwarf this modern mini mansion. As the plot was located in the midst of a very modern development area, extravagant traditional style was not the way to go. Instead, the modern home exterior was fragmented to look like a set of smaller dwellings.

There is a nod to the traditions of the area though: Historical buildings in Lucknow city are home to the famous ‘chikan’ embroidery, which features small and repetitive pattern. This style of pattern inspired the creation of the beautiful screens that work as semi-permeable shelters, and with the help of prolific planting they bring shade from the blistering hot sun.

The ‘chikan’ inspired shelters contain seating areas, which are ‘tagged on’ to each room placed on the south, west and east sides. The attractive screens create different light patterns inside throughout the day, and also help lessen traffic noise from the busy road.

With the noisy road to the south, the largest green space was placed along the northern edge of the plot. The architecture also tiptoes around a traditional Indian courtyard house layout, in response to the hot climate of the location, where temperatures soar in excess of 35° C in the long summer months. However, the typical ‘ring’ house design has been cracked apart here, shattering the mass into fragmented living spaces that allow extra precious airflow.

By night, interior lights burst through the intricate pattern of the screened volumes, bringing a new and exuberant personality to the boxy concrete architecture.

External light sources highlight the plants bedded around lush green borders.

A large planter brings greenery onto a tiled terrace, where tall branches silhouette against a backlit screen by night.

Mature shrubs and towering palm trees provide some outdoor shade.

The six bedroom house is interspersed with open terraces and landscaped gardens. A paved pathway is bedded into the lawn, beating a track around the perimeter. A concrete bench makes a picturesque rest spot along the way.

Large glass windows, and glass balcony balustrades, allow indirect sunlight to infuse the interior of the house on the northern side. The large garden on the north has pathways that cut through to the internal courtyard between room volumes. Partial shadows over the garden at most times of day mean that the outdoor space can be used in the long summertime too.

More large windows flank the approach to the home entryway, revealing glimpses of life going on inside.

A luxury living room resides just by the front door–perfectly positioned for formally receiving guests. A natural palette of sandstone and rich wood tone gives a warm welcome, whilst muted decor and grey Italian marble flooring provides a high-class seamless flow. The interior was gently curated this way so as not to distract the eye with decor, but rather lay focus on the beautiful light and shade that filters in, and the variety of spaces created. Vivid Indian art brings in some personality, and accent rugs continue the small splashes of colourful interest.

Varying volumes and layouts create individuality in each of the living spaces, which stand two stories high around a naturally ventilated courtyard that integrates them together. A vast shallow pool floods the central floor space, filled with blossoms. See more modern indian villas with courtyard designs.

Screens wrap the top of the staircase design, and one crosses the ceiling, facilitating natural ventilation and sunlight.

The interior style is somewhat raw, yet polished for easy, comfortable living.

Walls are consistently concrete, inside and out.

The unique home design is completely contextual to its location and climate, and to local tradition and culture.

Whilst many of the screened areas hold sitting spaces, some are simply narrow channels to shield the adjoined room from direct sunlight, road noise or onlookers.

Where there is decking space allowed, a couple of modern outdoor chairs provide a charming place to sip a drink, or have a chat.

The build is almost entirely raw concrete. From the outside, the architecture appears as though it could pertain to several separate dwellings, in-keeping with the surrounding prolific residential development.

Section drawing, illustrating the multitude of volumes that make up the modern house design. We can also see on ‘Section AA’ how double height measurements in the central space and living room create an overlap with the first floor.

Ground floor plan, featuring garden and patio layouts, plus parking.

First floor plan.

Design process.

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