house in the forest

A path to convergence

This little forest house is located in the experimental township of Auroville and is planned as a permanent home for a couple. Carefully placed into a 5 acres forest that is managed by them, the spaces are created with the intent to highlight the constant and harmonious interaction and coexistence, a synergy between the forest and the caretaker.

The plan carefully finds space between the existing trees ensuring the forest is unaltered.

Being fully surrounded by untouched greenery allows for an immersive experience of nature throughout each of the rooms.

Despite the interior spaces being compact in plan, their strategic openings and a little play-fullness in the two-floor layout create a free flow across levels into each other, making for an experience of vastness. Within this dynamic architecture, the light-flooded double-height living space marks the heart of this home.

Large windows towards north and south bring in maximum daylight, furthermore kindling a play of light and shadow which is filtered through the foliage of the surrounding trees, creating an avenue for a picturesque view.

Responding to the client’s need for zero disturbance to the surrounding forest, the building is raised off the ground. Tactfully taking on the role of a visitor, this abode hovers above the soil, accentuating its temporary placement within the forest. The calculated placement of structural granite walls, lifts the building and serves as retaining walls between the various levels of the original soil formations, thereby creating a channel for surface water, thus, maintaining the integrity of the forest floor.

Consistent with the overall environmentally conscious approach to the project, the material palette has emerged from an effort to reduce the use of concrete. The underlying reusable elements, including the use of locally sourced granite as well as recycled/up-cycled wood from the site and neighbouring forests are used as feature elements throughout the building. The unaltered granite and wood textures become an exposition of the shared values of the architect and client.

The architectural form emerged out of the respect given to the site, as well as the functional requirements of spaces and building performance.

Adopting the play of textures and light of the forest, the facade reflects a truthfulness to its architecture, assembling a range of local materials and construction methods. Distinguished by the play of two intersecting continuous frames, the facade finds its balance in the abstraction of the conventional roof overhang, merged into vertical elements along the east and west sides of the building. The large overhangs wrapping the building create additional spaces for storage, sit-out, and balconies.

The interior spaces reflect a simplistic lifestyle with a focus on comfort and functionality. It intentionally plays down the design to bring the surrounding forest into the foreground. The double height space, as part of the passive design strategies, maintains a comfortable internal climate through convection. Likewise, the granite establishes a stable cool temperature due to its remarkable ability to dissipate heat.

The ground floor accommodates an open living, dining, kitchen, and a bedroom with a common bathroom. The upper floor contains the master bedroom which abuts the dresser and bathroom. While, large balcony spaces fold directly into the onset of the forest canopy.

The combined efforts of optimized planning and architecture have created a project with zero negative impact on site. Comparatively low embodied energy is attained through the usage of various materials, construction techniques, and adopting passive design principles, hence, enhancing the use of natural light and ventilation. The entire home is self-sustained through a 5.3kWatt system with solar panels on the south facing roof.

All appliances are low consumption inverter models with an exception to the water heater that operates on gas. All wastewater is treated in an anaerobic baffled reactor and like the collected rainwater, percolates back into the ground. This presents the culmination of consciousness towards the environs and accentuates the importance of delicate and considerate planning.

pc: MCS/Akash Muthuraja