Excerpt: Cool house by Samira Rathod Design Atelier is designed like a box, rather inward-looking with windows that are strategic to bring in the cool breeze and diffuse the sharp light. The south facade is kept fairly dead and the wind is allowed to pass from the southwest courtyards and escape from the northeast courtyard ventilating the entire house. One courtyard has a shallow waterbody that cools the incoming wind before it enters the house.
[Text as submitted by architect] We believe that architecture is a response to many parameters, context, site, vegetation, geography, and climate. When building in a dry and arid place like Bharuch, the heat, locally called “loo” in Gujarati was a big such parameter that the architecture had to respond to. When making a house, it is imperative to take cognisance of many practical parameters of comfort, and for this house in Bharuch, it was particularly tackling the summer heat.
The name Cool House has come from the way the house has been designed, a respite in the summer, a tree’s shade under the scorching sun, the house as in the words of our patron is like a funnel that channels all of Bharuch’s wind into the house, making it a cool comfortable haven to live in.
Designed like a track with rooms on either side the house is punctured vertically making two courtyards on either side of the central track like a corridor. The courtyards begin from the first floor and frame views of the sky from the house. Being in a tight row house fabric in the town the context really is another house in great proximity.
The house is designed like a box, rather inward-looking with windows that are strategic to bring in the cool breeze and diffuse the sharp light. The south facade is kept fairly dead and the wind is allowed to pass from the southwest courtyards and escape from the northeast courtyard ventilating the entire house. One courtyard has a shallow waterbody that cools the incoming wind before it enters the house. This courtyard also has a jali that allows for the wind to be channeled and then thrown into the house like a whiff of a cool breeze on a summer afternoon.
The other courtyard has trees on the first floor making a sort of context for the house from within and allowing internal windows to see the tree crowns. Although inward looking there is a constant choreography of inside and outside movement within the house where you encounter the courtyards and can step out to them from the central track.
To help with beating the heat, the house also has thick external walls and a cool soothing interior is done in lime “chuno” that helps cool the rooms from within. The house is an example of contemporary architecture that heavily relies on our innate knowledge of climate and materials that work in such harsh climate regions.
The house, like a box from the outside, has unique materiality, one painted black and the other very tactile using small custom cute siporex bricks, the semantics make the logic of a track corridor and volumes on either side very evident. Small pockets have been identified within the mass that punctures it, and green can grow from within.
The ‘Cool House’ in Bharuch has been a surprise for us all. Although everything has been consciously designed within the house, the breeze in the house at the peak of summer has really blown us away, literally and figuratively.