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The House of Frames, Maraimalai Nagar, India by Studio RIBA

Project name:
The House of Frames
Architecture firm:
Studio RIBA
Maraimalai Nagar, Chennai, India
Hosh Pictures
Principal architect:
Galton Rinaldi
Design team:
Galton Rinaldi, Bhavani.M
Interior design:
Studio RIBA
Built area:
5004 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Sakthi Landscape
Tools used:
Sri Roshini Construction
Brick, Concrete, Stone, Glass
Residential › House

Studio RIBA: On the outskirts of Chennai, a two-ground plot is flanked by roads on the east and west, overlooking a reserved forest and a lake, conferring placidity in this turbulent world. This picturesque place is nestled in a developing area that boasts fresh air, privacy and noiseless space.

The core intent of the residence is to create an atmosphere that celebrates nature’s beauty while providing functional spaces through skylights, expansive windows and courtyards. Natural light floods make the three-story dwelling establish a connection with nature. Three bedrooms, a gym and outdoor areas are accommodated. The staircase is in the south to block heat. The living space and master bedroom are in the east for optimum light and wind flow. Other bedrooms are in the west for sunset views. A separate open-car parking area is encompassed by landscape and a pedestrian pathway.

Origin of frames

The facade has a variety of frames, from grand to minute. It starts with a majestic tapered ceiling and descends to a planter box. The glazing area, balcony and foyer frames punctuate the narrative, offering a range of unique proportions. Together, they create an exploration of scales.

The making

The creation starts with extending a double-height slab to craft a tapered ceiling. Cantilever planter boxes projecting from the balcony catch attention. The living room is highlighted by a sleek single-flight staircase. A stringer beam runs through the wall, supporting cantilevered stairs fixed within it. Strings extend from the stairs to the roof, connected to a metal plate that acts as a handrail. Proceeding in, the courtyard features a clerestory optimizing the stack effect, epitomizing a spot for me-time.

Levels of serenity

The residence features a separate parking area, offering panoramic views from the roof. Upon entry, an extended slab and circular columns create a pleasant environment. A double-height living room connects to the entrance with water features and planter boxes. A staircase with seating illuminated by skylights adds a modern touch. The play of shadows in the living area enhances its aesthetics. The office room, accessible from both the living room and foyer, opens to an inner courtyard. The dining area adjoining the courtyard features a swing, puja unit and landscape. The guest bedroom unfolds to the backyard with fruit-bearing trees, complementing a bay window.

The first floor starts with an informal living area, leading to the master bedroom. It offers a balcony with a cantilevered planter box. The metal-fabricated balcony is adjustable for nature viewing and privacy. The gym on the second floor opens to a spacious hosting area, enhanced by a tapered ceiling that serves as a seating and stargazing zone. The overall design focuses on fostering intimacy with nature.

Material Magic

The entrance unfolds with a heavy carved teak door complementing the stucco-cladding exterior and stone-patterned planter boxes. Moving in, exposed concrete steps accented by metallic handrails give a subtle elegance. Courtyard, decked with encaustic tiles, offers a contemporary twist balancing the concrete aesthetic.

By Liliana Alvarez

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