Multigenerational family home in Rajasthan by Sanjay Puri Architects embraces regional vernacular and natural ventilation
Vinay Panjwani

Multigenerational family home in Rajasthan by Sanjay Puri Architects embraces regional vernacular and natural ventilation

4 Jun 2024  •  News  •  By Gerard McGuickin

Located in the arid desert region of Nokha in Rajasthan, India, “Narsighar” house is a majestic sandstone edifice whose construction embraces centuries-old regional vernacular and planning principles. Designed by Mumbai-based Sanjay Puri Architects, the house makes use of traditional and natural ventilation techniques, including: courtyards to aid passive cooling, thick stone walls to strive against the exceptional heat, and stone jali screens to provide ventilation while dappling the interior with sunlight.

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani
photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

Designed to fulfill the client’s wish to accommodate four generations of family members, this impressive residential dwelling (with a gross floor area of approximately 3,345 square meters — 36,006 square feet) has nine bedrooms, a series of multifunctional living spaces, and outdoor areas — more than 40 percent of the house is made up of open courtyards, circulation spaces, and sheltered outdoor patios. In its entirety, the house can be perceived as a composition of individually articulated volumes. Sanjay Puri Architects combined each living space with a sheltered outdoor area, screened with perforated stone panels. “In addition to reducing heat gain, these screens also protect the inner spaces from the sandstorms prevalent in the region,” says the studio.

photo_credit Sanjay Puri Architects
Sanjay Puri Architects

 

photo_credit Sanjay Puri Architects
Sanjay Puri Architects

Narsighar house is built from sandstone available in the surrounding area. Its design combines traditional planning principles with elements of long-established Rajasthan architecture, including: quintessential multifoil arched windows, patterned stone screens, elaborate stone pergolas, intricate inlay patterns, and meticulous carving work. Rajasthan is home to many skilled and dedicated craftspeople specializing in carpentry, stone carving, marble inlay, lime plastering, and more. Their skills alongside laborers from local villages helped to build the entire house while reviving many traditional techniques. In addition to the use of sandstone, the home’s marble, wood, lime plaster, and furniture were all acquired within Rajasthan.

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani
photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

The entrance to Narsighar house begins with a car porch that opens onto a sunlit courtyard. This leads to a sheltered stone arcade, edged by water troughs and gardens that provide passive cooling. From here, residents enter a skylit entrance lobby with an adjacent living room and an open seating area. Beyond this, the home is arranged around a large central courtyard/atrium. The courtyard is naturally ventilated via clerestory windows. 

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani
photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

Sanjay Puri Architects incorporated a series of differently-sized volumes throughout the interior that act to define a range of spaces: the central courtyard rises to a height of 12 meters (39 feet) while the north and south courtyards are 8 meters (26 feet) in height; the main living room is 6.5-meters (21-feet) high with the majority of remaining rooms measuring 4 meters (13 feet) in height; outdoor patios are 3.6-meters (12-feet) high. Each living space and bedroom opens onto a sheltered outdoor area — this creates transitional volumes between the indoors and outdoors that mitigate heat gain. All spaces are permeated by indirect sunlight, filtered through arches and stone jali that create a wonderful interplay between light and shadow.

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani
photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

Sanjay Puri Architects has designed a house in the context of the region’s climate, location, and heritage: “Narsighar revives traditional Indian planning principles and crafts, creating an energy-efficient home built to last for centuries and future generations,” says the studio.