The Cuckoo’s Nest

A residence that cocoons and gives the family residing within it the comfort they need, becomes the dream residence for every homeowner. When the design team at Between Spaces tick all the boxes for this small family’s needs while keeping it aesthetically pleasing and simple, the house is indeed a Cuckoo’s Nest, a sanctuary for the three generations who live in it.

The Cuckoo’s Nest is designed to be a sanctuary intended to resonate with the silence and quietude of a temple complex, yet be filled with the sounds of conversation between three generations. It is built on a corner plot measuring 45’x75’ with roads on the western and northern edge in a gated layout and surrounded by a silver oak tree and some palm trees.

“The brief was to design a house that is simple, pragmatic and modern for aging parents of the owners, the owners themselves and their two sons,” says Divya E, one of the principal architects and founding partners of Between Spaces, “The entire narrative of this house is constructed around the idea of playfulness and pragmatism. The name Cuckoo’s Nest alludes more to the playful imagery of Cuckoo’s clock.”

Between Spaces is an award-winning practice that prides itself on discipline at work and in life: “We believe that a certain amount of discipline is very important for our own individual growth”, they believe. The work is also hugely influenced by their own personality.  Pramod Jaiswal, principal, and founding partner say, “Our work is an expression of our beliefs.”

We ask about this in the context of the Cuckoo’s Nest and he says, “Residences are very personal in nature. It largely bears the impression of what the client’s life and personality are all about. The client wanted a nice house that opens out to a courtyard and should be friendly to the elders who would be staying with them. So, it’s not just about our own personalities but the owners that get the priority in the residential projects we do. Having said that, Divya and I like simple and intimate spaces and believe that houses should have spaces for conversation, spaces for making memories, and should be a refuge where one could unwind after a day of hard work.”

“In Cuckoo’s Nest, we have deliberately prolonged the entry to the main house by making the owners walk past the greenery in the courtyard and in the passage enclosed within the brick Jaali wall. This is some ways acts as a transition space where one should leave the clutter from the outside world before entering the house. I think a tinge of greenery really brings a lot of freshness inside a home,” says Pramod.

A deliberate transition in scale and materiality is created through the brick jaali wall and the low height form finish roof over the entrance verandah which acts as a threshold between the immediate surrounding and the interior. The verandah leads to a foyer space separated from the living with the help of a filigree screen finished in MDF and dark blue color paint. The foyer leads to the living room and the double-height dining space, right in the center of the house. The interior spaces are kept very simple with selective walls finished in hues of blues and browns.

The proposed design interprets the typical layering in south Indian temple complexes, where the inner sanctum is surrounded by layers of pillared verandahs and the outermost layer of a tall fence. This layering helps in gradually taking people from the chaotic outdoors to the serene and quiet indoors in a sequential manner.

Programmatically, the house has two bedrooms for the old parents, living, dining, and a pooja room on the ground floor. The first floor has the kid’s bedroom, a study, and the master bedroom around a double-height volume over the dining area on the ground floor. A small garden on the northern side becomes an extension to the living room. This garden is enclosed within a brick jaali wall on the northern side, to ensure good cross ventilation and a certain degree of privacy from the road without making the space feel cramped.

“The entry to the house has been deliberately convoluted to make the inhabitants move through a green-edged verandah sandwiched between the courtyard on its eastern side and the brick jaali wall on the western side of the property,” explains Divya.

The kid’s bedroom on the first-floor juts out of the main mass and has been crowned by a pitched roof, clad in Sirra Grey Granite, allowing a small loft over the bathroom. This doubles as a cozy play area for the kids.

“The inherent honesty and simplicity of the house is reflected in the usage of terracotta bricks, form finish concrete, white walls, white marble, and a very simple décor in the interior spaces,” says Divya.

The interior spaces are flooded with indirect and soft daylights through skylights over the staircase and deep-set windows.

Between Spaces have created a space that is both a sanctuary and a fun space with materials adding texture and shadows in the common areas.

“Materials have played a pivotal role in all our projects and we like to experiment with materials. We feel the texture of materials, the undulations, and colour of materials add to the narrative of the space. Cuckoo’s Nest has Jalli screens that act as a second layer to the main skin of the building. This screen provides the necessary privacy and protection from heat but also kept the space connected to the exterior. We could work with different patterns to modulate the flow of air and light inside the space. Brick was also ideal for it to be the transitional material that led people from the street to the court and then to the functional spaces,” explains Pramod on the material chosen.

Project Details:

Project Name: Cuckoo’s nest
Company name: Between Spaces
Website : www.between
Project Location: Bangalore, Karnataka
Completion year: 2020
Design team: Shveta Mohan, Pramod Jaiswal & Divya E
Site area: 313.5 sq. mt.
Built-up: 565 sq. mt.
Other collaborators
Structural Consultant: Kalkura associates
Civil Contractor : Ennkay constructions
Interior Contractor: Kanhayalal Sharma
Photo credits: Shamanth J Patil