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Mountain Dust: An Illustrious Organic Architecture
AR. MAHESH NAIK, Architect Mahesh Naik
The dwelling, Mountain Dust, serves as a country home for Mr. Alreja and his family who primarily live in Mumbai. The 20-acre site is situated at the foothill of Matheran Hills, near Mumbai in Maharashtra, India. The site drops 110 feet from the top of the drive to the water edge. This countryside farmhouse consists of a six-bed house, surrounded by a common retro glamping area, swimming pool, service block, staff quarters, water reservoir, a large meadow, sacred groove, and wild untouched woods on the cliff till the river edge.
At the heart of the house is an ample light-filled triangular atrium, around which the whole house revolves. Other spaces extend outward in three directions towards nature, forming a sacred Triskelion geometry to get a maximum vista of the surrounding mountain. Thus this house exhibits both introvert central space and extrovert spaces at the periphery extending outward and merging into nature.
The country house has 3 bedrooms, a pantry, and living space on the ground floor and 3 bedrooms on the first floor. Each bedroom has two triangular balconies with a compact, yet dynamically angled bathroom built adjacent to it. The house opens into a massive deck on the east side and is well-shaded by its mass during peak afternoon hours.
The pavilion at the edge of the deck provides shelter and a panoramic view of the Matheran mountains with the changing backdrop of rising sun and moon. From the deck, one can access the swimming pool area below and glamping site.
The cantilevered sloping roof on the three sides of the house shields the structure from the vagaries of the weather. The rich arch openings made with M.S. hollow box pipe and clear glass allow plenty of natural light, merging the house with the surrounding landscape. This house is a great way to experience nature.
The Design Concept:
The idea was to stitch the house with the three attributes- the huge towering mountains, the sunrise, and the moon. This led to a sacred knot – a Triskelion geometry for the house.
This geometrical system enables the house with more surface area, giving a maximum 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain. The requirement of a program together with this unique Triskelion geometrical system in response to the site context and the climatic condition with the minimal natural material palette, generated the form of the house from within. The external appearance of the house is the natural result of the process. Thus the house form expresses a highly specific relationship to the site and the client’s program.
To achieve simplicity and a bucolic feel, a minimal natural material palette was decided. Black basalt stone foundation, earth red bricks for a wall, black china mosaic roof, kota stone flooring with black china mosaic border along the wall, yellow Jaisalmer stone for the central staircase, beige Shahabad stone for deck, black river sand finish granite stone along with black basalt stone walls for toilet became the palette for the house. The colour of the material – red, beige and black became the central theme.
To increase the green cover of the property, more than 2000 trees were planted over a span of three years during house construction. Indigenous plants were preferred for plantation as they require less maintenance and even have medicinal properties. The landscape around Mountain Dust has been kept random and raw to retain a natural feel.
Various earth mounts have been placed strategically to control the scale of the house and achieve privacy from outside, as well as they depicted miniature mountains mimicking the Matheran hills. The driveways and pathways were made in circular geometry to divide into various zones.
House geometry plays an important role in instilling harmony and tranquility. The house geometry of Mountain Dust is based on a squarish and triangular grid – forming a Triskelion geometrical system, which is balanced by the circular geometry of the landscape.
Philosophy of Objective Organic Architecture:
Organic architecture is more intrinsic by nature. It is based on ideas derived from a holistic approach. It echoes the philosophy of evolving in response to context and interaction with surroundings. In organic architecture “Nature” becomes the prime attribute.
The nature of a site, the nature of the topography, the nature of the climate, the nature of the material used, the nature of intention, and the nature of the man – all inspire its built form. Organic architecture is a form of objective art.
Its sole purpose is “the Objective development of a man”. It has a character like a man and has its own unique form to serve its particular purpose. The extrovert nature of man is synchronised with extrovert space; similarly, the introverted nature of man is synchronized with introvert space. Thus forming a resonance between man and the space. Arriving at this “state of resonance” is very important in Objective Organic architecture. Such an art form acts like a code language to produce a particular feeling in man. For instance, if you see a beautiful form or a beautiful building, you feel joy because of its geometry which is also induced in you.
Similarly, the presence of an ugly building makes you feel uncomfortable, repulsive, and agitated because of its disproportionate, non-balance, disordered, crooked geometry which gets induced in your mind.
So whatsoever man observes, in some deep sense he becomes of the same state of mind. Just sitting silently and looking at the statue of Buddha, something in you will become calm, something in you will become still. Something in you will become Buddha-like. By watching the Taj Mahal in the full moon, you will fall into a very meditative space. Thus objective organic architecture helps you to become centered, healthy, and whole. Organic Architecture focuses on the creation of such objective art forms.
Way of working:
After a conceptual drawing and model, I did not make any working drawings. The house evolved naturally.
“It was purely on-site work in response to site context, direct collaboration between architect, local mason, and fabricator, without the involvement of any structural and civil engineers.
Ar. Mahesh Naik, Principal Architect, Architect Mahesh Naik and Associate pursued B.Arch (2001) from Pillai’s College of Architecture, New Panvel. He worked under Ar. Dean D’cruz and Ar. Hafeez Contractor and then started his own practice in the year 2002 in Navi Mumbai.
Ar. Mahesh has 22 years of field experience and his practice is based on Organic Architecture, creating structures that grow from nature and blend with it to achieve human-centric design goals. He believes that Objective organic architecture focuses on the creation of objective art forms. Ar. Mahesh Naik’s first project- Ebrahim Family House was nominated for the Aga Khan Award 10th cycle in the year 2007 and featured in 21st century World Architecture by Phaidon Press Atlas, London. Another project- Moonlight Farmhouse -Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, India. is included in the online World Architecture by Phaidon Press Atlas, London. He was TED Talk speaker at IIM Ranchi in the year 2012.
Ar. Mahesh has over 20 years of teaching experience. His works have been featured in 18 various architectural magazines. As a speaker, he has been talking about his work – Objective Organic Architecture - in a number of architecture colleges.