The Woodside, Kasauli, India
Architects: Morphogenesis Architecture Studio
The view from the top
Environmental and sustainability concerns were a major consideration when the architects planned these Indian mountain homes
Designed by Morphogenesis, this unique residential development is located in close proximity to the town of Kasauli, that is well-connected by road to the cities of Chandigarh and New Delhi in northern India. The site is in the Himachal Pradesh region in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas and is situated on highly contoured land with level differences of about a 100 m within the site. The neighbourhood is predominantly used for agriculture and vegetation, hence the site exists within a vast green, mountainous landscape. The project brief called for the construction of an exclusive, high-end residential development comprising of 37 cottages of four types based on design, size and location within the site and other integrated common facilities at varying heights.
Site planning and organisation was initiated with this premise, as per the existing natural slopes of the site. Layering of the base principles of circulation (existing and proposed), public amenities and the slope, led to the development of the site plan. The cottages and the internal road networks have been strategically placed in order to minimize the intervention through cutting and filling of the natural terrain of the region, whilst retaining the maximum of the existing vegetation and contours as undisturbed. The cottages are positioned on the slope in a manner that ensures unobstructed panoramic views of the scenic hills of the Shimla valley; the largest ones enjoy the farthest view. This is achieved by maintaining a minimum height difference between the roof level of each cottage and the ground level of the preceding cottage uphill.
Various Environmental Strategies have been adopted to secure Water and energy Conservation throughout the development. The site has been well equipped with rainwater harvesting facilities that help to reduce water wastage. Rainwater harvesting pits have been established at regular intervals within the site which further help in the storage of surface runoff. The collected water is then used for the purpose of irrigation downhill and the remaining water is then channelized further downhill to be collected in a sump to be reused later.
The outer walls of the cottages are 350 mm in thickness that help provide a thermal mass maintaining the inside temperatures to be cool during the day and warm at night. This also helps lower down the dependence on air conditioning considerably reducing the energy consumption.
Special features have been incorporated to pledge the exclusivity of the site and the development; including an open pavilion at the highest point of the land and a viewing deck to maximize the views from the site. An existing water body on the site which has been retained and the onsite vegetation has been maintained as well in order to preserve the sanctity of the site. Locally available materials like stone, timber, slate and other random rubble have been used for construction.