Net gain

30 Nov 2011

Mesh covering for Ahmedabad weekend home inspired by childhood ingenuity

The relentlessly varying weather of the city of Ahmedabad exemplifies the typical tropical climate of extremes: short winters, wet humid monsoons and long dry scorching summers.

Though less prevalent today, in the architects' childhoods they slept outdoors, when the cool night breezes came as a relief, under a simple net held up by intersecting bamboo poles which, once tucked in, became their private domain, a safe haven.

When the brief for a weekend house in the fringes of the city asked for a place that is open to nature yet shields one from its harsher aspects, memories of the net and the protection it offered came to the architects' minds.

A virtual jungle of hoardings, telecom towers and temporary structures now make up the Indian city skyline. This same image reverberates in the light, hand-fabricated steel and concrete trellis that holds up the slab and leaves the floor below free and unencumbered.

Centered around an all-encompassing cabinet, the 40' x 40' column-less space thus formed is enveloped in gossamer layers of sliding mosquito net to protect from insects, roll up bamboo chiks to provide shade from the hot tropical sun and folding glass so the space can be air-conditioned.

All these layers provide desired degrees of privacy, shelter and exposure to nature, resulting in the Net House.

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