Excerpt: Fera Residence, designed by Tanya Karim N.R Khan and associates, has large openings, looking into an internal courtyard, interpreted to be contemplative in its character, and the spaces are designed in harmony with the role of fulfilling the living experiences. The interior is in complete contrast to the solidity of the exterior envelope. Entering the house, the walls and edges dissolve, becoming an integral part of form-making.
[Text as submitted by architect] Sometimes a house needs to fulfill vast responsibilities, like becoming the anchor of one’s identity or returning someone to his roots. The project is named “Fera”; a Bengali word that means ‘to return.’
The design is in many ways deceiving. There are no direct openings onto private returning places Totally blinded off from the lane, all other sides of the home have large openings, looking into an internal courtyard, designed to be contemplative in its character, the space is designed in harmony with the role it is meant to fulfill. The interior is in complete contrast to the solidity of the exterior envelope. Entering the house, the walls and edges dissolve, becoming an integral part of form-making. The outside becomes one with the inside and the quality of space constantly changes with the climate, the seasons, and the time of the day.
Site and concept analysis
The site is a small parcel of land, an ancestral property that has been subdivided between his cousins and passed down from his parents to the client. Across the road, all the cousins have built their homes. This plot of land, houses towards the north a bamboo grove; is almost a century old. The home is designed in such a way that the roadside of the home would be blind but all other sides would have openings into an internal courtyard. Towards the north, a skylight peaks out into a beautiful borrowed landscape, one plot over. At the entrance of the site, sits nestled, the bamboo grove, a symbolic invitation back to the owner’s roots.
Description of project
Constructed with solid walls to one side, on the roadside, all other sides were created to have operable windows which would allow the prevailing breeze to flow through the home. Therefore, the project is designed to capture wind and light, while blocking off heat and glare. The walls are created as a kind of craftwork, with textures by wood shuttering, like low relief work. Beaded with glass blocks that glow beautifully throughout the night. All throughout, the project is transparent, becoming one with the continuation of the seasons, the sun, the rain, the time of day and the drama of the moods of nature.
Significance of the Project
The significance of the project is much more psychological than it is physical. It returns one back to the home of his ancestors, while it addresses the reality of his aging years. It gives the client a beautiful yet contemplative space to reflect in. All while matching the client’s taste in modern elegant architecture, to which he has become accustomed throughout the years. With the two factors combined, we achieve the goal of the project, which is to create a tranquil space of return.
Details of sustainable architecture
This project hardly requires any daylight as it is extremely well-lit all throughout natural daylight. The other aspect of the house is that it is built with totally locally available materials and with very rudimentary local technology. Transformed into a craft-like product of sorts rather than being rudimentary. The house is oriented with the locally prevailing winds, while blocking of any glares or heat with solid walls. The rainwater is collected dramatically through cascades into pools, which are then reused for irrigation of the landscape.
Details of socially responsible architecture
Sitting at the edge of a road, we did not want any openings out onto the street that allows one to look into the interior of the home. Oriented with the prevailing winds, flowing in from the southeast in this part of the country, all spaces open into an internalized courtyard. The house is designed in a way that even passersby can take in and enjoy the landscape that has been created for the family. They can enjoy the courtyard, the entry of the house, and the bamboo grove. They can see the waterfalls that happen when it rains, as it cascades into tanks, later used for rainwater harvesting. So, the treasures of the house are also made available to all the passersby of the community of that area. And even with a blind wall, it does not negate, it rather offers.
Innovative project Technology
All materials used, are local. From the sand and aggregate to the wood and bamboo. All from that area to hand make this project. We wanted to show that a handmade project doesn’t always mean a vernacular looking project. It can be a sophisticated project because we can use all these materials to do very innovative formwork. By limiting ourselves to wooden shuttering, we used the pattern of the wood to create wonderful textures and low relief on the concrete façade. Strays of light are brought to the inside by adding glass blocks. While at night, they light up and cast an arrangement almost like artwork on a solid wall for passersby to enjoy. These glass blocks needed to be the exact width of the wall and were therefore cast in a designed mold, designed down to the exact proportions of used bottles of Sprite and coca cola. We melted them down in a kiln and then we embedded those blocks into the walls.
The client asked for a point of return, a place in which to destress and reflect. Specifically, focused and emotionally attached to the century old bamboo grove that sits north of the property, this bamboo grove had to become a pivotal part of the design. Therefore, we kept the bamboo grove at the point of entry into the property as a symbolic welcome to the client’s history and roots. He asked for a space where all private spaces look out into a space of contemplation and therefore the incorporation of an internalized Zen garden and a contemplative landscape. We placed waterfalls that draw from the rain and pool down in beautiful cascades into rainwater reserves. Place in the central court and the backyard, the waterfalls allow the rain to animate the house. We wanted the client to have this added pleasure beyond his demands of just wanting to look out into the gardens of reflection. Although he permanently stays in Dhaka he would return to ‘Fera’ from time to time.