Have your house designed the way you want it





CONCEPT IS an idea derived after considering all the important factors influencing the design of a house. The factors are the requirements, lifestyle, site, climate, budget, social concerns and aspirations. One needs a professional like an architect to understand all the factors, conceive the design, suggest alternatives and provide the concept a physical shape. The factors are elaborated here.

A house is made of various parts such as the living room, dining hall, kitchen, bedrooms and toilet. The essential parts needed for one family is different from another depending on the size of the family, the frequency of guests, frequency of social occasions, etc. A lawyer, a doctor or an engineer may require a home office, a teacher may need a tuition room and a dancer may need a large dancing hall. I encountered a case where a client requested a room for his favourite pet and it was accommodated. The "wish list" determines the size of the house. A concept is evolved and the areas in the house are interestingly sequenced keeping in mind the efficiency and privacy the clients demand.

Lifestyle of the family plays a major role in design. The conservative families may need privacy for certain areas which are probably not insisted by the liberal ones. Hence the sequence of rooms is determined by the areas where the outsider is allowed and areas which are private. The lifestyle of individuals also influences design. In a recent project, a family of four had to be provided with areas to suit their hobbies. The woman wanted a garden for her bonsai collection, her husband wanted a library for his books, the son wanted a room for his aero models and the daughter asked for an area for music practice. We created an indoor garden and a study-cum-library at a mid-landing level for the library, music practice and aero modelling which became the centre of the house that binds the family.

Site location, shape, natural features and surroundings influence design. A corner site will have the luxury of uninterrupted ventilation and view on two sides where as a site in between two will have view on one side only. The shape of the site determines the form of the building which will optimise the use of the land. Sloping site, a site with a rock outcrop, a site with trees and such other features can influence the design to the extent that some of the award winning architects have used them as the theme of the design. A site in Banashankari at an elevated place overlooks a beautiful valley. The view is so captivating that we wanted to provide a glimpse of the attractive sight from all the areas of the house. This led the design to evolve in a unique manner that the entire house oriented towards the valley.

Many a times cost-saving techniques lead to unique character of design. The will to restrict the use of costly elements of a house, replacing them with inexpensive and sometimes completely radical solutions, drives the design concept. On the other hand, the freedom of a big budget encourages a designer to use appropriate material and technology to get the desired outcome.

Social concerns like the use of eco-friendly materials in construction and limited use of cement and wood will lead to designing a residence without conventional materials. Locally available materials, skills and technology influence design. With the material available in abundance, its nature known, it is easier to design and accomplish good quality of work in the shortest time.

Climate of the place also influence the design. The houses in the costal areas demand continuous draft of air without which one perspires. This becomes a primary consideration of design.

Aspirations of the owner can also influence design. The wish of Kauffmann to live next to the water stream in his farm led architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the celebrated "Falling Waters" residence.

The designer's preferences and allegiance to an established philosophy of architecture also influence the planning. Architect Kannade necessarily uses stone as a primary material of construction. He is also an authority on stone. People wanting a stone house approach him for design.

He is a strong follower of modernism (a trend in architecture where the rooms are designed and organised strictly according to their use and the exterior of the building is without unnecessary decoration). Hence predictably, one gets a modern stone house.

In conceptualising the design of a residence, all the above factors or one of the most important criteria may force the outcome which is relevant only to you. Hence it is but natural that no two designs of a house can be the same as no two people, their requirements and their lifestyles are the same.

(This is the second part in a series of articles on house construction. The author is an architect).

Myths and truths

Myth: Architecture is about four walls, a roof, a door and a window. Truth: It is about what happens within them. Myth: Architect's job is to design elevation. Truth: Elevation is only an external composition of the internal design. Myth: Architect's service is expensive. Truth: Like other professionals such as lawyers and chartered accountants, an architect charges a fee ranging from 5 per cent to 10 per cent (of the building cost) depending on his/her experience and reputation.

Myth: Architect makes you spend unnecessarily. Truth: Once the design is finalised and the budget is derived, there is no scope for increase so long as the specifications are not changed.

Use the service of an architect or designer to help you design the house.

Meet the architect personally to brief him about the requirements.

Provide in writing a brief about the requirements, lifestyle of your family and its members, your concerns and aspirations.

Insist on the architect visiting the site before the plan is drawn.

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