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Defining a new style of modernism- Ar. Anupama Kundoo

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

Anupama Kundoo in Wall House for Apple TV+ original ‘HOME’ | Photo Credit: Apple

“My dream is to see a society of equal opportunities, without the stark social segregation, without poverty, hunger, homelessness and where women can walk around anywhere & everywhere as safely and freely as men.” -Anupama Kundoo, the green architect, the contemporary vernacular architect, the social architect & the woman architect

This pandemic probably is the first time most of us spent enormous amounts of time at our homes. Isolation has opened a new indoor world, and also a realization that bloomed along with it, about light and ventilation our indoors sustain. Clustered houses & apartments with just any amount of natural light seeping in, have given us a taste of the aura of the living spaces we dwell in. Kundoo, 53, a renowned architect, spends her lockdown at her residence - the famous ‘Wall House’, at Auroville.

Ar. Anupama Kundoo, an alma mater of Sir JJ college of architecture, Bombay, practices Sustainable Architecture, at Auroville, and also extends her venture into Urban Design and Planning. She has taught at many universities in Berlin, Madrid, London, New York, etc. and is also the Chairperson of ‘Affordable Habitat’ at UCJC Madrid. She is currently carrying out her research in the field of Energy & Water Efficient Infrastructure.

Wall House | Photo Credit: Apple inc.

Situated on the outskirts of Auroville, this beautifully planned wall house has also been replicated at the Venice Architecture Biennale, with brick & terracotta in full scale. This building is an example of ‘Critical Regionalism’ i.e. it’s a sophisticated imitation of the vernacular architecture of that area. It is a contemporary building, serving an international socio-economic need, and maintaining a low carbon footprint on the environment. It accommodates all the day-to-day needs whilst amplifying its warm welcome to the guests. The architect, through the design of her residence, aims to redefine the design program for a private residential unit. A various number of technological & spatial alterations can be observed in this marvel. It sustains all the qualities of a climate-responsive structure, and yet maintaining a contemporary profile. The transition spaces have placed this into perspective. The design of the landscape is made in a way to integrate the indoors & outdoors, still upholding the sense of limits. The use of local materials in numerous innovative ways has been an outstanding attraction in various projects of Ar. Kundoo. The wall house is also one such example.

Long hall, Wall House | Photo Credit: Venice biennale 2012

The long hall induced with dining table, pot plants, vaulted roof, timber shutters & brick patio, brought back its impact to regular size. It was unlike a usual 3D-printed volume, skyscrapers, or the utopian urban model-filled hall. The long steps and the double-height hall provide a breezy welcome to any visitor.

Dining, Wall House | Photo Credit: Apple inc.

“If we go the industrial route, you can only ever get the thing that the machine’s maker intended.” – Ar. Anupama Kundoo. The use of earthen pots in filler slabs creates a better product out of the existing, by tampering with its use. Local craftsmanship can be espied in various technological innovations used here.

Guna vault, Wall House | Photo Credit: Apple inc.

The vaulted roof of Guna (burnt clay pipes), exposed brick masonry, exposed concrete, and long steps to add spatial characteristics - all adding to a functional and ecstatic appeal of the wall house. The wall house derives its name from the adjustable ferrocement screen walls with punctures, pivoted at the boundary of indoors and outdoors. Hybrid innovations, local craftsmanship, and site context make this wall house admirable. Ar. Kundoo promotes and practices energy-efficient methods in architecture. The wall house meets its energy demands from solar photovoltaics, along with a solar water heater, and a pump. The wall house manifests minimized credence on steel and cement.

Guna vault, Ferrocement screens, Wall House | Photo Credit: Apple inc.

What makes the stay inside the Wall House a “mesmerizing experience” is its generous permittance of immense natural light, seeping in through all the openings. Various shadow patterns can be observed on a sunny day on the interiors. A view, and feel of the outdoor, can be experienced in almost every space around here. It provides abundant room to spend a tranquil time, and to take a creative escape, away from the hustle and bustle of daily mechanical life.

Long steps, Wall House | Photo Credit: Javier Callejas

Wall House | Photo Credit: Apple inc.

The contrast of the exposed materials, and the shape of the openings, add an ecstatic perception of the spaces. All monotony is broken with a material change or an additional different type of openings. The change of heights in different spaces also enumerates the sense of limits. Every possible green method of design has been utilized without compromising aesthetics in any manner.

The wall house redefines all living ethics in every aspect possible. Some other projects of Ar. Anupama Kundoo, such as Volantariat Home for homeless children -constructed by baking a mud house in situ, Hut in Petite Ferme - a basic dwelling of the thatch roof, supported on casuarina members, Sangamam - a cost-efficient habitat built by using rammed earth building technique with cement stabilizer, etc. exhibits her patent style of design & construction. She is one prominent architect to be followed, if one is interested in the low cost, eco-friendly, sustainable method of architecture, or believes to protect local architectural characteristics of a site location, with sophisticated alterations in a contemporary manner (i.e.) critical regionalist architecture styles.

© 2021 by Ardent Space for Architectural research and Practice

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