[ecis2016.org] Here’s how Mumbai-based Manas and Nidhi Vanwari of Vanwari Architects, remodelled the Chawlas apartment in Mumbai, aiming to recreate the magic of the Chawlas’ traditional home back in their native place
Mumbai-based Manas and Nidhi Vanwari, who run Vanwari Architects, undertook the design of a lovely apartment unit belonging to the Chawlas – a family of four. The Chawlas were looking to recreate the magic of their old, traditional home back in their native place. Here’s a look at what happened and what home owners can do, when they want to design a comfortable and contemporary home that also incorporates the old into the new.
The vision behind this beautiful home
“In our discussions and ideation sessions, the Chawlas always reminisced about their ancestral home. The spatial qualities of their old home, which was always bright and airy and a welcoming space where they could entertain their friends and family, was something that was particularly dear to them. They aspired their new home, albeit in a high-rise apartment building in Mumbai, would somehow embody similar characteristics,” say the designer duo, Manas and Nidhi.
The owner’s brief for an open and airy home was the starting point. However, the architectural arrangement of this apartment did not allow for cross ventilation in any of the rooms, making the overall ambience dull. “Our approach was to try and reverse these shortcomings and use interior design as a way of correcting the architectural design of the apartment,” says Manas.
The first task was to clear up as many internal walls as we could that acted as barriers to light and wind. This was a tricky affair as most of the inner walls were structural reinforced concrete, as this was a high-rise building. “We worked around the beams and columns, making the most of the limited opportunities we got, to dismantle the walls and create window-like openings inside. After this, we reorganised the layout,” recall the Vanwaris.
The two important moves were to shift the dining space in the centre of the house and to use one of the three bedrooms as an extension of the living/dining room, like a den. “We reconfigured all the vertical infill partitions to have varied types of openings,” says Manas.
Type of décor
The home is neat and simple, with clean lines, evoking a contemporary look. The basic material palette is restrained, with natural materials like stone and wood dominating the design. Traditional craftsmanship is emphasised, especially when it comes to woodwork and joineries. This theme continues across the apartment, yet individual rooms have their own character.
The long winding entrance has an alcove for visitors, below which is the shoe cabinet. The horizontal slatted door allows for ventilation when the main flush door is kept open. As you enter the house, on the left you pass the temple, which segregated by a screen of teak wood sections. It has a resonating white ‘OM’ fabricated in metal.
A grayscale colour scheme complements the sliding shutters that are crafted in wood. These shutters have operable louvres above, to aid air flow through the house. The temple is monochromatic.
A black and grey sofa coupled with grey pillows is part of the inviting waiting lobby at the entrance.
A white, modern, surface-mounted ceiling light in the shape of a figure eight greets you at the front. A beaten brass hanging light adorns the ceiling in the temple area.
A wooden panel along the passage conceals a door to the powder toilet. Mirrors on two sides undo the feeling of a being in a confined space. A narrow ledge wall is used to place paraphernalia in this compact toilet.
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Dark brown tiles and marble-finish checkered tiles.
“Placing the dining room in the middle of the house helped us create a long and linear living room,” explains Nidhi. Two small parts of the sofa are movable to create a flexible seating space. A large circular white clock adorns one corner. A custom-design grey mirror sculpture hangs on the back wall. The TV unit has drawers and niches for the daily paraphernalia. It also has a small window glimpsing into the kitchen with Venetian blinds that can close.
The frame-like openings, on both the external and internal walls, are timber partitions outlined with teak wood sections and finished using teak wood veneer. A grayscale colour scheme is accentuated by warm notes of crimson and earthy orange.
Monochromatic patterned fabrics are used for the seat back. They are punctuated by orange and red pillows.
A milky white hanging light is placed at the corner of a reading nook by the window side.
The living space continues behind the dining room. The built-in sofa can slide out, to double-up as a bed when guests are visiting.
Blue, red and purple are the main colours in this space. The built in TV unit with open shelves is finished in black PU paint.
The sofa is upholstered with a two-tone fabric. The Roman blinds have the same Violet tones.
Concealed LED lighting keeps the ceiling clean and uncluttered.
This space is actually a foyer to go to and from different rooms and visually connects to one end of the seating in the living room. So, the dining table is accommodated off-centre in the space. A part of the vertical surface is used as a photo wall. The credenza unit is fixed on the wall and floats slightly. The custom-design glass dining table has a very light and unobtrusive appearance.
The silver travertine flooring has wavy veins flowing across all rooms echoing the direction of the breeze. All the doors and most of the furniture is also teak wood, all with inconspicuous built-in handles. The solid internal walls and beams that form the core of the apartment are finished in grey cement based stucco plaster. Credenza is finished with gold foiling.
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On one side, the table has built in seating with a maroon leather seat and back. The other side has chairs on teak wood frame, upholstered with mustard coloured fabric.
A sculptural, asymmetric, gold-plated hanging light is positioned above the off-centre table.
The modular kitchen has white back-painted glass shutters, bright yellow square tiles on the dado and a beige quartz kitchen top.
Utilitarian lighting creates a bright functional space. Concealed LED wall washers highlight the bright dado.
The study and side table form a single element finished in smoked oak veneer and a black leather headboard. The master bathroom has travertine flooring and vanity, glossy chocolate brown tiles and rubber-wood cabinets.
The two daughters in the house have their own little room. Part of the wall behind the column is used as a dressing area and the other half forms the opening.
White walls and a white back-painted glass sliding wardrobe shutters make this a very muted room. The green ceramic wall hanging, the pillows and the small puffy are the only elements that add a bit of colour in the room. In the bathroom, the tiled floor, composite marble vanity and shutters are all white in colour. Pink tiles on a few surfaces add colour.
What makes this property beautiful…
“The USP of this ninth floor apartment was that it faces a vast expanse of mangroves, with a view stretching up to the horizon. Our design ensured that an unending supply of natural air flowed through the apartment, capitalising on two basic natural assets of health and living – light and wind,” the Vanwaris explain.
The dining space is the heart of the apartment where all the rooms open to. Each room has varying degrees of openings that move, fold, slide and pivot, as the situation demands. The real beauty of this apartment is that this ‘Collage of Windows’ can not only regulate the breeze moving through but also calibrate the privacy during different times and usage.
For example, at most times through the day the apartment can be open. The wide sliding-folding door of the den can be closed and has frosted glass to continue allowing light to enter at all times. The large vertical louvres can be closed, if it is being used as a bedroom, making the room more private. Similarly, the sliding kitchen glass door can close during cooking hours and its horizontal louvres can be opened, to still allow the breeze to flow through. The bedroom has a small window angled strategically so that it can remain open, even if the door is closed, allowing passage of air without compromising on privacy.
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