Project of the Day: House with Balls
January 25, 2011
NBD y’all, just a house with balls.
We spend all day every day looking at pictures of buildings, so frankly, it takes a lot to get us psyched on anything. But sifting through images of this project from Matharoo Associates was a joy – the project page is a veritable children’s treasury of the weirdest, coolest architectural photography we’ve seen in a while (cattle, camels, fish, lights facing concrete walls, is that someone up there on the roof? Is that a cow up there?).
Matharoo Associates hail from Gujart, India. The House itself is located outside of Ahmedabad, and its dual functions (to serve as both a weekend home and fish-breeding location for an aquarium shop-owner) clearly informs both is formal and conceptual logics. For example: the Kahn-esque concrete, poured in-situ and left intentionally unfinished (“Every aspect of this design is set out to strip expense from the project”) is offset by elegant and sculptural details that mark the home as a luxury residence.
Click through for more on this excellent project.
So, let’s broach the topic of the balls. The handmade concrete spheres are “the cheapest counterweights available,”and control the orientation of the metal shutters that blanket one wall of the house. The architects write, “When closed it is a 13m long and 3.6m wide space rendered by the light through the fish tanks. On opening the shutters this linear space transforms completely into an infinite one perpendicular to its original direction.” The balls do more than just provide counterbalance: they also introduce an element of chaos, of changeability, into the design. Their orientation is somewhat dependent on wind and other environmental factor – sometimes, they dip into the lily pond. We imagine the experience of living in the home is a very tactile one – of physics expressed through literal means.
The siting of the home is incredibly interesting – in fact it reminds us of Richard Serra or of the land art made famous in the 70s by artists like Robert Smithson. According to the architects, “The concrete frame around the window plays multiple roles; as a seat from the garden side, steps for children to climb on from the garden or jump to from the terrace, a weather protection device while also providing a rat & snake proof section. It starts serving as a bar counter with the attached kitchen platform for larger gatherings. The grassy knoll that rises in front of the long opening bears under it a bio-gas plant, fifty thousand liters of rain water storage, and an earth heat exchange tube. Back through the shrubbery and fields the house assumes a squat position; the curving wall to one side allows one to walk up a gentle slope on to the terrace running over the length of the house. The weekenders enjoy the feeling of floating over a bed of lily petals while being weighed down by the baubles.”