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© Sebastian Zachariah ,Edmund Sumner


Project Name: House on a Stream Location:  Alibaug, India Type: Residential, Landscape Design Team: Robert Verrijt + Shefali Balwani Size: 225 sq.m. Program: Forest Retreat Photographer: Sebastian Zachariah ,Edmund Sumner


This retreat in Alibag exquisitely weaves into the landscape with a stream running through the house. The house is designed such that it opens and closes itself to the various characteristics of the site.

Though seasonal, the streambed allows for an attractive landscape feature throughout the year. A multitude of medicinal and fruit-bearing trees provide for an intimate ambiance and comfortable microclimate. A short walk along the stream before entering the house domain builds up a sense of anticipation.

The house consists of two parts, the day area of the house (Such as the entrance verandah, living room, kitchen and  the dining) are detached from the master bedroom by a bridge that spans across the stream. Trying to make the most use of its resources and surroundings, this house is like an organism with several limbs that reaches out into the landscape. Each “limb” makes full use of the views within the site and dramatizes special moments: a beautiful tree or the cascading stream during the monsoon rains.

The volumes of the house are arranged not unlike a Chillida sculpture, where “a large spatial field is formed in the centre around which the limbs move. The dialogue between the forms, are much more important than the forms themselves.”

Since the owners are enthusiastic cooks, the kitchen is made at the heart of the house. Reminiscing of the kitchen chimneys at the Sintra Palacio Nacional, this space is a large, inviting volume tapering towards a skylight. Here natural light filters down and enlivens the space throughout the day.

Around this central kitchen, three ‘wings’ span across into the landscape and anchor the house into the location. For example, the living room ‘wing’ is lifted off the ground to have a panoramic view of the mountain range in the distance.

The guest room wing has an existing tree to create a courtyard. It just about peeks across the dining room to have a view over the length of the stream. The swimming pool is aligned along the stream. It acts as a substitute for it during the dry season, and as an extension of it during the monsoons.