In the city of New Delhi, the steeply rising price of land compels owners of private property to build the maximum permissible envelope of the site. The streetscape - an essential and centuries-old dialogue, balancing the scale between private residential buildings and public streets in the city - is rapidly diminishing. Residential areas are overrun by defensive masonry boxes, devoid of any desire for interface between the public and private realm.
In the Defence Colony residence, the project derives its material and tectonic vocabulary from the plethora of tombs and palaces - fragments of 15th century Islamic medieval architecture - that anchor the urban landscape of Delhi. Built with load-bearing masonry walls, designed to withstand the loads of a Zone 4 seismic location, the residence creates its sense of architectural and urban identity in adhering to one primary material – local machine-made bricks.
The mass of the bricks is expressed both in the thickness of the walls, as well as in the surface articulation, keeping the house thermally temperate, and endowing it with a rich earthen hue. Simultaneously however, the brick transforms into an effervescent and lacy veil in the screens that shade the west facade of the building. All doors and windows, made from Teak timber sections, were hand fabricated from logs by the carpenters on the site.
Brick has always been the fundamental building module in Indian architecture. Moreover, it links modern architecture with an ancient craft tradition, refined over centuries of use. In reviving this material, and especially using it so extensively - as structure, surface and detail - this project makes a strong and coherent argument for linking sustainability with this most eternal of all building material.
This is simply a hand-crafted, modern house, seeking to restore the relationship of inhabitants to their fundamental material context, a house made of baked earthen bricks.