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Amit Khanna Design Associates

Cuboid House

The project attempts to demonstrate the possibility of affirming some ‘principles’; some elementary yet precise rules. A series of spatial sequences are structured around minimal architectural events distributed throughout the house. These events are meant to be merely the background for the life of the future occupants and therefore recede into an almost imperceptible variation of light and shadow.

Developer-driven apartment blocks have completely overtaken the immediate context and most of urban Delhi. These apartment blocks typically occupy the complete permissible envelope and then embellish the peripheral walls with whatever is currently most fashionable. The resulting urban condition is one dominated by forced facades that are 50ft/15m tall, punctuated only with unusable three feet balconies and large expanses of inoperable glass with little or no protection from the climate.

In contrast, the Cuboid House strategically optimises all of the area permissible by local code, but redistributes it amongst the various floor levels. The lower service floors are extended to the perimeter to allow for a larger ground floor and to maximise the parking at the road level. However instead of stacking upper plans above each other, the building steps away dramatically as it rises, giving way to a series of decks that open up to views on the north-east.

This strategy helps bring light deep into what is essentially, a narrow thin building. To further add to the luminosity of the interior spaces, two light wells are placed in the main living space. Equipped with operable windows, they not only bring light, but also draw out air from the floors and vent from the terrace. The deep recesses for the windows and large overhangs temper the fierce climate of Delhi and recall sustainable building traditions, while allowing for views from within. Two local stones, one grey (cudappah), the other sandy brown (jaisalmer teak), are used to emphasize the cubic volumes that give this house its name and form its most distinctive visible element.

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