Rooted in Tradition

The architects envisaged a modern yet classic structure using traditional materials that puts the limelight on the architects’ culture and modern values. Initially, the idea was to design a completely vernacular structure, but the architects decided on merging their progressive desires with the traditional vernacular design. The architects’ took inspiration from the site context and combined it with their design philosophies and aspirations of their dream home.

An abode away from the city, the site is in close proximity to nature, and that contact is maintained owing to the intentional transparency between the interiors and the exteriors. It exists in tandem with the elements around it, providing a subliminal nod to nature.

In a time when climate change is a major concern, preserving natural assets not only benefits the environment but also the health of the users living in and around such a premise. While designing, the architects made sure that the pristine surroundings merge well with the structure, hence the design is such that it tries to embrace the landscape, also aiding a visual connection of the inside and outside. In addition, using laterite stone, which is a sustainable material, gives an advantage of a difference of 1 degree in the interiors. Enveloped in laterite/chira stone but juxtaposed with contemporary box windows capping the edges, and a wooden pergola, the structure is an amalgamation of tradition and modernity. The heavy laterite/chira stone mass is complemented by subtle materials and white bands to break the monotony. Polished chira stone is also used in the interiors to follow a similar design language, while it is complemented with rustic wooden furniture and decorative elements. Using local materials ensured that the material palette respects the surroundings.

The trail leading upto the house is sidelined so it does not cut through the lawn. It allows the visitor to stroll around and take pleasure of the garden as opposed to directly walking upto the house. Shrubs and bushes are lined along the path on one side while the other side offers a lush green welcoming lawn which is the first sight as one enters the premise. Owing to its vastness, it creates a vista for the bungalow, perfectly framing it. The house is fringed by a variety of trees and plants along its periphery, out of which the backyard is an organic garden used to grow vegetables. Humble steps lead up to the otah, which is a Konkan verandah, where the users can enjoy their evening tea in tandem with the serene environment.

They say ‘Beauty lies in details’, and the house is a perfect example of this. Each element boasts of minute details, which accentuates the overall feel of the space. The front door has a wooden framing fit in with stained glass and decorated with brass ‘Warli’ murals. Mosaic floor tiles are lined along the edges of the walls, windows and doors, giving an outline to the space. As one enters the house, the idea of a seamless experience immediately comes forth as from the spacious living room to the kitchen, through the dining room; the spaces literally flow into each other. The open plan is curated to cater to the regular use patterns of the family.

Architects Poonam (M. Arch PM) and Raj Mhatre (M. Arch PM; MSc Arch, UK) are a dynamic couple practicing architecture with a sense of responsibility and morals since the past 18 years. With a true inclination towards academia and theories to practice architecture, they work in a way which doesn’t disturb the ecosystem.

As design process is a thoughtful journey from inspection to execution, the practice revolves around the clients’ expectations and moulds a way around it to create something that not only satisfies the client but also makes its mark as a thoughtful and sustainable piece of architecture.

Exuberant design solutions with minimalistic designs and affordable prices is their specialty. They believe that simple architectural details give sophisticated aesthetics. Transparency in working, collaborative designs and ethical project execution is what they aim at.

Their office, in the name of MSquare Design Studio, established in 2007, has done projects ranging from residential and commercial blocks, to resort design, to interiors of commercial spaces. The Studio has a wide and versatile range of experience in exterior architecture and interior architecture.

The Studio, in its founding year designed residential cum commercial buildings in Panvel (Visa Developers) and Uran and also empanelled itself with SBI as civil and interior architects. The Studio has designed and dealt with various typologies of banking spaces. It has completed over 55 branches of SBI and has also been awarded for 2 of them, therefore portraying qualitative and quantitative experience in commercial interiors.

The living room is accentuated with customised pieces of furniture, wherein majority of the entities are actually picked from their old homes and modified to give them a new identity. The television unit is a creative combination of the architects’ old unit, supported by additional planks and a change in colour. The partition between the living and the dining room, which is also used as a display unit, is surprisingly made out of an old door frame. The dining area acts as the fulcrum of the house, asserting itself as the warm haven, opening out to the courtyard and into the kitchen and living room. A typical Konkan house boasts of a courtyard. In this case, the courtyard, instead of being centrally located, is created by the niche adjacent to the dining, lined along the boundary. It behaves like an extension of the dining area, with a seating area and a store room, while the steps steering down into the courtyard, lined along the periphery of the house, can also serve as a casual seating.

The kitchen is a modern entity, however, the rearside of the kitchen houses a traditional chulha, also known as ‘adhuri chul’ in the Konkan region. Though traditional, it has been modified and modernised in a manner that it generates no smoke, and the waste is collected in a connected pan.

The main highlights of the house are actually the small niches. Separated by a wooden jaali, a small niche in the living room holds the temple, with dim lighting that highlights and differentiates the space. Also, along the edge of the temple is the full length box window that looks out into the greens. The wash basin in the dining area is well-hidden and aptly fit in a corner which has a jaali wall that allows for the play of light and shadows around the space.

As opposed to the ground floor, the first floor is a private space consisting of an additional family room, the master bedroom, children’s bedroom and the guest room. The family room opens up to the terrace that overlooks the lawn, and can be treated as an extension, to accommodate more people.

Located 45 minutes away from the city, this is not just a holiday home. The architects have built a dream home for themselves on their ancestral land and they travel to and fro on a daily basis. Finding such a space in the city is almost impossible, but travelling the stretch for a more serene living environment is worth it. It won’t be long until people start settling back in villages or the countryside.


Project: Residence of Architects Poonam and Raj Mhatre
Location: Uran, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
Site area: 6000 sq. ft.

3800 sq. ft.

Cost: 2 crores


Text by: Ar. Nida Chikte
Images courtesy: Ar Akshata Damle
(, Instagram: @thegreenologue)

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