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.
The project was designed with three distinct zones- a ground floor apartment, a basement gallery space for the daughter’s art collection and a duplex apartment on the upper floors for the owners. There is a large courtyard that can be looked into from the formal living areas and a smaller one brings light to an internal stair for the upper apartment. A stepped arrangement of verandahs on the north corner brings light and green views to the lounge areas on all floors.
The interiors are finished in muted tones of white. The regular dark tones of wood finishes were eschewed in favour of the blonde, honey coloured quality of oak wood and a similarly light cream coloured stone has been used to create a neutral, yet domestic backdrop to the art on display. A structural wood stair, dramatically lit from below, descends to the basement from within the house. On the terrace, a deep verandah opening onto the garden makes a relaxing space for evening dining. The walls are raised to avoid the unsightly views and the only thing that can be seen is the sky.
The house takes its name from the early 20th century art movement, which helped spawn the modern movement in architecture. The hallmark of the original De Stijl House, the Rietveld-Schröder House (Utrecht) was to make a building that seemed to be composed entirely of surfaces and volumes that were gliding past each other, dissolving the boundaries of inside and outside. A long window is designed in the vein of Mondrian’s paintings, a composition of rectangles and
squares in various proportions and colours. The overall facade continues the same theme, with various elements first being designed as a composition of horizontal and vertical rectangles and then given contrasting material finishes. Brick, Grey Granite and Exposed Concrete were chosen for their longevity and colour.