Brick Kiln House

August 1, 2013

India being a vast country,
it has phenomenal variances of contexts, climatic zones, geographies of land, flora and fauna,  cultural differences, urban or rural demographics and even economic stratification and aspirations.

Apart from these, skills available for construction trades, materials to build with, and many other intangible peculiarities need serious consideration.

An architect’s sensitivity and acute observation of these specific peculiarities is of utmost importance .

We consider these peculiarities as precious, they inform our design methods and thinking to the greatest degree.

We seek an inherent appropriateness and relevance through the way we address to evolve our own peculiar expressions

awesome environment for the house

Located in a small village Munavali, proximal to Alibaug, a favorite getaway, for affluent Bombay citizens as a place to build their dream country home.

The allotment (3 acres) was partly a grove of Tamarind and Mango trees, with the odd , Champa, Vad tree. Part of the plot was four feet lower and was, an unkempt paddy field.
The front of the property is a not so busy asphalt road.

The living space has a curious shed-like volume, where the materials of the house come together rather loosely ….. Insinuating incompleteness and creating a sense of being immersed in the vegetation around.

The body of the house hides under tree canopies like a gator , at the edge of a river bank….

The choice of BRICK was based on color, strength, finish— –blemishes of a hand-made unit were key to the overall expression…

The red earth brick does not attempt to be precise, neither does it try to create patterns or jaalis as commonly seen in Indian architecture, the brick is what it is , at rest — a STACK , its mass concealing and revealing life within it….. The sheer thickness –mass of the brick, keeps the interior spaces comfortably cool.

These form a peculiar feature of the landscape in Maharashtra.

Our interest lay in using this image as a genesis of the house . An image which is taken for granted and often missed as part of the inherent semirural landscape.

Long stretches of the two main wings of the house , sit at right-angles to each other and about a curious tree which has grown at a leaning angle ……

The pool, takes form from the shadow of the trees on the earth below, a pattern we noticed on an especially hot afternoon ….. In such regions water automatically becomes a source of life…. Getting engulfed by foliage….

This was a DESIGN-BUILD assignment — our first as architects…..

We, had one brick mason— eccentric!, 6 carpenters – with their radios blaring!  ,an old stone cutter whose hands as hard as stone gave evidence of his life’s work  and our engineer all of 28 yrs- who questioned the necessity, sense and strength of everything from design decisions to construction joints, to frustrating levels!!!

WE ,enjoyed building this house……..

As with all architecture, what endears is never what was planned but the subtle occurrences and accidents which creep in unnoticed, they are the ultimate fruits of this discipline…………

Further conception, was informed by site features like prominent Tamarind trees and orientation, aspect, wind and rain direction …..

Every room is cut on two sides with  openings ,supporting easy cross ventilation and ingress of just the right about of light…..DESI (country) houses have peculiarly dark interiors offering respite from the sun –scorched outdoors…..

Attached facilities, allow for an intimate interface with the outdoors, in marked opposition to urban life, here you wouldn’t need a book when you sit on the pot……

The sequencing of the rooms, is frugal, and in series as a farm building, you must walk outdoors to change rooms…

Experience of occupation takes precedence over formal gestures…. Sun , rain and wind freely enter the house and will mark it over the years …..the stacks will gradually get covered with luminescent moss, nature will fight its way back……. Living in a country home is about witnessing this war…..

When driving around the Raigad district, one often chances to see local brick stacks being baked on the green lots that surround them – some remain and are also abandoned ….


– Munavali, Alibaug, Maharashtra, India.
Lead Architects – SPASM Design Architects
Design Team – Sangeeta Merchant, Mangesh Jadhav, Thomas Kariath, Mansoor Kudalkar, Sanjeev Panjabi, Parag Satardekar.
Site Area – 9800 sq.m
Total Built Area – 830 sq.m.
Construction Period – May 2009 – Dec 2011
Contractors – R.K. Construct
Engineers – Mr. Gireesh Rajadhyaksha (structural)
Bricks: Kerela Tile agency
Basalt Stone: Satguru Stone
Cudappah Stone: Aren Stones
Wooden Floor: K.K.Timbers
Pool Tiles: Karnik International
Lighting: Louis Poulsen, Osram, Philips, YLighting, Kundalini
Sanitary Equipments: American Standadrd, Jaquar
Furniture: Good Earth, BoConcept
Special Standing Seam Zinc Roofing: Petes Roofing
Roof Cladding: VM Zinc
Design Period – Jan 2009 – June 2009
Photographs – Sebastian Zachariah

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