Throwback 2015! A year that has been...

...very productive here at Grounded and very rewarding too. 

In 2015, at Grounded, we began construction on our second project at Goa. Named 'Navovado', we are moving full steam ahead to complete by its target date in Q4, 2016. Navovado is an opportunity for us to further develop our design principles to build in harmony with nature, to use of local natural materials, to design glorious indoor-outdoor spaces with natural ventilation and abundant daylight.

In 2015, we added Pallavi Chitnis, a key new member to our team. Pallavi is a graduate from the School of Planning & Architecture in Delhi and brings twelve years of work experience to Grounded. Pallavi can often be found obsessing over details at the Navovado construction site or absorbed in spotting, identifying and photographing the birds of Goa.

In 2015, we continued to receive recognition for our first project, 'Nivim'. Nivim was awarded the Archidesign Award for the 'Best Private Residence Design' in India in 2014. Nivim was also recognized as the first green certified home in Goa by the Indian Green Building Council's publication 'Envoy'. 

Ahead in 2016, our first priority is to complete Navovado to the highest level of design and construction quality. We will be pursuing green certification for the project and hope to achieve the highest standard possible. As we grow, we are also putting together plans and ideas for future projects in Goa. 

We are committed to expanding our brand identity through our presence on the web and social media. Please take some time to explore our Facebook feed, Pinterest boards and Instagram Photos.

Here is wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Grounded Team.

Navovado Design Concept

Rendered View of the courtyard at Navovado with the swimming pool and the living room

Rendered View of the courtyard at Navovado with the swimming pool and the living room

We are building Navovado, a beautiful new home in Goa that is centered around a courtyard and is cocooned among 5 five full grown mango trees. These amazing Mankhurad mango trees have a private world of their own and lend a unique ‘specialness’ to our site.

Adhering to our principle to ‘reconnect with nature’, Navovado is designed to enjoy the simple joys of life and to rediscover the luxury of spending time outdoors amongst nature, enjoying the blue skies, cool breeze, local produce, and precious moments with family and friends.

Designing for a lifestyle to 'reconnect with nature'

Designing for a lifestyle to 'reconnect with nature'

space layout

We love the courtyard at Navovado. We have designed a seamless flow of space from the living spaces to the courtyard. We imagine entire days spent on the living room verandah overlooking the pool; we imagine friends and family using the living room, the courtyard, and the gardens over breakfast, lunch and dinner and chai; swimming in the pool at one’s time of choosing at day or under the stars at night; and enjoying glorious evenings with candlelight and great conversations.

Rendered View of the living room at Navovado connecting to the courtyard through glass sliding doors 

Rendered View of the living room at Navovado connecting to the courtyard through glass sliding doors 

As we climb to first floor and above, to the viewing terrace, the tree canopies give away to view of the rice fields, backwaters and hills in the foreground. The view changes with the season; lush green fields and monsoon clouds transform to earthy ground cover and clear blue skies in winters. The hills remain lush green with leaves of coconut palms, mango and other tropical trees shinning green gold colour in afternoon sunlight.

design Inspiration

At Navovado, we find ourselves being greatly inspired by the Sri Lankan architect, Geoffery Bawa.

We are getting inspired by his rustic vocabulary of white washed walls, clay roof tiles and stone floors, we love the way Bawa masterfully weaves in open courtyards and nature into this homes. We love the transition of spaces from indoor rooms to interior courtyards and to outdoor courtyards and gardens.

We are also making note of his use of large shaded windows, and high cathedral like ceilings with a play of light and shadow while being enveloped in nature.

Finding Inspiration in houses designed y Geoffrey Bawa, a Sri Lankan architect

Indoor-outdoor design

To reconnect with nature, we pay a lot of attention on minimizing the barriers between the built structure and nature. This continues to be a central theme at Navovado. The wall between the living room and the courtyard is a wall of glass sliding doors that make the living areas seamlessly connected with the courtyard and swimming pool.

Each bedroom at Navovado has large openings onto verandahs or terraces.  

Rustic meets Contemporary

While we love and emmulate the rustic feel of natural materials and traditional building form, we are also proponents of contemporary architecture. We love clean lines and simple forms. Our ideal product is a coming together of rustic and contemporary elements. Hence, at Navovado, we are designing to achieve the delicate balance of highlighting local natural materials and rustic elements in a contemporary building form and a modern functional space plan.

Navovado is the forthcoming project in Goa by Grounded. Navovado is available for sale, for inquiries write at admin@buildgrounded.com.

Jim Thompson House in Bangkok

I was in Bangkok recently and following Pallavi's recommendation, I visited the Jim Thompson House.

Jim Thompson, an American architect who settled in Thailand after the World War II became a very successful silk trader and a celebrity of sorts in Thailand. His house in Bangkok is a collection of 4-5 original Thai wooden homes that he brought from villages and re-reconstructed on the current site in Bangkok.

The wood used to build the houses gives an incredible amount of warmth to the interior spaces. Walking on teak wood planks on the floor feel like walking on silk. 

The landscape was the part that was most fascinating to me. In his original plan, he had planned for multiple courtyards, forecourts as well as a forest. There were lily ponds flanking the entrance courtyard which led to the forest, a tropical forest with meandering path ways and a little hidden pond with a tiny fountain. I loved the meditative quality of the forest space the most. I loved the treasures tucked away, where you could hear the water but not see the pond until you arrived right in front of it. At every corner, there was something new to admire, a new type of flower, a new fragrance coming from somewhere, a stone antique or a partial view of the house or another courtyard. 

The art of architecture, when done right can engage all the senses at once. A prime example of space bringing happiness...

Wander & Wonder at Rao Jodha Park in Jodhpur

Jodhpur is a beautiful city, with a majestic fort, luxury hotels, incredible shopping and even a zipline for the adrenaline junky. To add to it all, I found another visionary piece of the city quietly tucked away in the hills below the Mehrangarh Fort.

Rao Jodha Park, is a one of its kind, concerted effort in India to restore the natural ecology of a place. The large, rocky wasteland (now the park) had been taken over by Baavlia, a foreign invasive shrub from Central America.

Baavlia, a fast spreading plant (some consider it a weed) was introduced in Jodhpur over a century ago. It was originally thought that this magic plant would provide abundant grazing for the cattle in the city. The result however was that, it killed all the native plants in the area, and the animals refused to feed on it.

In 2006, identifying this as a problem with long term environmental damage, the Maharajas of Jodhpur initiated a project to restore the area to its original ecosystem. I was told that eradicating the Baavlia, sourcing seeds of original native species and allowing them to thrive once again was an arduous task. But the result is beautiful, it is a piece of historic Thar desert landscape, that is dry, rocky, with surprising bursts of color and water!

I am a huge optimist and any small measure of thoughtful action makes me happy and brings me joy. So I loved being in the park, listening to the stories, learning about the desert landscape by exploring, taking in the sights and smells. It is a great place to wander and wonder about the complexity of nature, its delicate balance and yet the resilience and longevity of it.

Why are native plants important ? Native plants are the species of plants that have adapted to the geographical and climatic conditions of a particular place. They are a vital part of the local food chain and natural ecosystem that has balanced itself over many years. They do not require additional irrigation, fertilizers, or other resources to grow. Once taken root they form a part of the ecosystem and can peacefully co-exist with other varieties of local flora and fauna. Finally, many traditional practices and livelihoods in the local area may also depend of the local species, such as traditional medicine, fodder for cattle, shelter, crafts, etc.

All images courtesy of Rao Jodha Park website and Motherland Magazine Ecology issue.

Light-filled Shophouse in Singapore

For Singapore Design Week, I joined a group of design lovers to tour design significant buildings in Singapore. 

I was bowled over when I walked into 145 Neil Road, a traditional Peranakan shophouse that has been refurbished into a contemporary sequence of spaces dotted with traditional elements, rustic finishes, exposed concrete, large sliding doors with clear glass and light-filled courtyards. Great inspiration for our forthcoming projects!

Source for images: Spoonful of Home Design 

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012

I am due to attend the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale this coming weekend and thought that it was a great opportunity to go back to my notes on the first Biennale held in 2012:

"I loved the show (in 2012), thought it was very well curated, excellently sited in old historic buildings in the historic core of Kochi and was all about celebrating art. I loved the intertwining of art with the historic past of Kochi and its forgotten old buildings. I loved that the art was truly contemporary and site specific. I loved the juxtaposition of history and crumbling infrastructure with new age art employing multimedia technology.

Siting the biennale in old crumbling buildings in the historic core of a city was a masterstroke. I loved how the buildings (exhibition space) were left in their original state. Even when the first instinct would have been to patch them up and to quickly hide away the flaws behind several coats of paint.

The heat and humidity, the sound of the generator, and mosquitoes, all made the experience much more Indian. How wonderful (and democratic) that there was no attempt to air-condition the space, make it shine, make it comfortable for the elite patrons of art. The authenticity of the experience made the biennale specifically Indian with a strong focus on India's plurality of social structure, issues of development vs. displacement, the perception of heritage and other vestiges of the past.

It felt great to walk from one building to next, one space to next, even as one was sweating like crazy, while there was little or no breeze and strong relentless sun overhead.. all because you could not get enough of the ART.

It was interesting to note that many artworks reflected the theme of displacement, conflict and human rights violation due to development or over-development in India. It was wonderful to find contemporary art that was truly a reflection of the most pressing issues in our country today."

More updates soon on the Biennale this year...

 

Raas in Jodhpur

Rass hotel is a boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic center of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The new hotel is built within three existing heritage buildings that have been carefully restored. The real beauty of the place is to be found in the 3 new buildings have been added to the complex. The new addition has been done with such finesse that if one looks at the photos, it is hard to see where old ends and the new begins. The planning of the new complex is a great example of adaptive reuse and historic preservation. The new buildings are carefully sited and sized such that they become a part of the historic buildings and landscape. 

Existing Site plan with three original heritage buildings.

Existing Site plan with three original heritage buildings.

New site plan for Raas hotel with new buildings added into heritage compound.

New site plan for Raas hotel with new buildings added into heritage compound.

In order to blend the old with the new, the designers have used local red sandstone as the dominant exterior material. The real nuance in design lies in the manipulation of the material into screens that evoke the traditional 'jaali' but are fiercely contemporary in pattern and the way they fold out of the way to enhance transparency, frame views and create indoor-outdoor spaces. 

We love everything about this space and architecture, and want more of the same !

Designed by Lotus Praxis Initiative. Watch architect Ambrish Arora’s presentation on the design for Raas.

Link to Raas Hotel Website.

Raas Hotel won the award for Best Holiday Building at the World Architecture Festival 2011.

Most images courtesy of Designboom.

Unforgettable Frida

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I was fortunate to visit the Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City last week, and was struck by the powerful, vivacious, full of life Frida.

Frida contracted polio very early in her life and then met with a road accident as a teenager. This left her with multiple health issues for the remainder of her life. Here is what she had to say about that: "Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly"

The above statement sums it up for me. Lesson learned: Do not limit yourself...limitations are for lazy suckers. Life is to be passionate and to follow your heart... 

Fearless, powerful Frida, we love you...

Amangiri Hotel

Amangiri, 'peaceful mountain' is located in Canyon Point in Southern Utah in the United States. The resort is surrounded by a dramatically surreal landscape of a desert. We love and drool over the minimal architecture in the monochrome palette with straight clean lines that frame the rugged and barren surrounding landscape.

We love the strength and confidence in design where embellishments are unnecessary and the landscape is at the center stage. We are in awe with the drama where the building is unapologetically modern in style but fits right into the landscape, where the building and landscape take turns in being the object and backdrop, the view and the frame.

Images courtesy of Amanresorts.

Utsav House

Utsav House in Maharashtra in India is yet another beauty from Studio Mumbai led by the very talented Bijoy Jain.

It is actually one of my favorite Bijoy Jain creations. I love the scale of the house, the bare walls against the expert wood carpentry and brass hardware. I love the way the walls continue to become the floor finish. There is a quiet and subtle beauty in the thought and precision in execution that elevates this building above the usual and prolific construction that we have become accustomed to. Kudos to him once again ...

All Images courtesy of Archdaily.

A Poem for the New Year

It is another new year, maybe time for resolutions and new beginnings... Here are a few paragraphs from a poem that has struck me and I wish to remember it as we build Grounded !


A Psalm of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

TELL me not, in mournful numbers, 
        Life is but an empty dream ! — 
    For the soul is dead that slumbers, 
        And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real !   Life is earnest! 
        And the grave is not its goal ; 
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 
        Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 
        Is our destined end or way ; 
    But to act, that each to-morrow 
        Find us farther than to-day.   

    Lives of great men all remind us 
        We can make our lives sublime, 
    And, departing, leave behind us 
        Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Let us, then, be up and doing, 
        With a heart for any fate ; 
    Still achieving, still pursuing, 
        Learn to labor and to wait.

Elsewhere in Goa

Elsewhere is a gorgeous down-to-earth resort in Goa with history that dates back to 1886. It is a located on a thin stretch of land adjoining the Arabian Sea. Defining true barefoot luxury, this is the resort Brad and Angelina have rumored to call home during their visit to Goa.

Elsewhere has 4 old houses on the beach that have been lovingly restored and the result appears breathtaking. Retaining the names of their historical use, they are referred to as the Captain's House, the Piggery, the Bakery and the Priest's House.

beach4_22.jpg

We love the simplicity of the architecture and the renovations. We love how the houses are simply a medium for users to experience the surrounding landscape which has been left largely untouched. We can imagine some beautiful breezy mornings and starlit nights in these homes.

The Captain's House

The Priest's House

All images are used with full permission, courtesy of the Elsewhere website.