ns*a Architecture and Interiors is an award-winning Mumbai-based design practice spearheaded by architect Neesha Alwani and designer Shruti Jalan who bring in their distinctive aesthetics to each project. They have inculcated a symphony of arches thus celebrating the high-ceiling and the general sense of special luxury in this South-Mumbai apartment. By Amrita Shah
Established in 2000, their expansive body of work ranges from high-end residential interiors, offices, retail, and hospitality spaces. They say, “Our practice is dedicated to provide optimal solutions that result in a functionally, aesthetically and an economically built environment tailored to fulfill the requirements of our clients. Our involvement with projects of varying scales ranging from a private residence to boutique hotels has enabled us to romanticise and at the same time rationalize our approach to design. There is great pleasuring in knowing that our thoughts can be translated into graphical representations that evolve into built environments suitable for various functions.”
Neesha and Shruti pride themselves in bringing a fresh approach and new aesthetic to every project they tackle. When they were approached to design an apartment in a South Mumbai skyscraper, the clients – a working couple with two teenagers – emphasised they wanted a space that would be an oasis where they could completely cut off from the bustle of the city and unwind at the end of the day.
In order to create the feeling of a tranquil getaway that felt spacious and hinted at subdued luxury, the designers decided to remodel the entire apartment. The high ceilings and wall-to-wall windows with unobstructed views of the Arabian Sea created the perfect canvas to execute what Neesha and Shruti have christened the ‘Symphony of Arches’.
“Our first response was to re-plan the apartment to create larger spaces. We converted the four-bedroom house into a three-bedroom one, configuring the spaces to increase the main family spaces and to create a master suite. We knew at the onset that we wanted to introduce an element that would accentuate the volume of the spaces and realised using arches as a design element would draw the eye upward to the high ceiling,” says Neesha. She admits that the clients were sceptical about the arches at first, thinking the house would have a very dated, classical look. The resulting aesthetic is anything but – white stucco lime plaster walls, streamlined furniture with hints of an art deco influence, lofty arches, wood panelling, and a grey tile floor with three-inch white Carrara marble strips laid at a diagonal, all bathed in natural light, creating the urban sanctuary their clients wanted.
The tone of the house is set right at the entrance. An arched door leads to an entry passageway that continues to the spacious living space through a bold grey painted archway. Two more arches are carved into the square vestibule in the centre of the corridor, and house a console on one side and a bench on the other, both with ribbed edges and echoing the modern art deco details.
The kitchen was originally placed near the dining area, but the designers decided to house the service areas just off this passageway. The new master suite took the place of the kitchen. The reconfiguration of the plan also enabled them to increase the size of the living area and create a defined dining area that is visually demarcated by a retro wooden console. Panelled walls with ribbed wooden wainscoting conceal storage units and maintain the quiet aesthetic of the space. The ribbed surface treatment continues to the brass finished pull out bar that is otherwise housed in a niche.
The adjacent master suite boasts of a walk-in wardrobe and a full wall of windows that offer an infinite view of the bay, with the bed positioned to maximise it. Wood panelled walls and a streamlined wooden unit covering an entire wall of the room provide a warmth that complements the grey flooring that runs throughout the house, uniting it seamlessly.
At the other end of the house, through an arched doorway is a small vestibule that leads to the children’s bedrooms. Here, the language of the interiors changes noticeably; each room echoes the personality of its occupants.
While the daughter’s room is done up in a soft palette of mint and coral, the son’s room has a bold black and white stripe pattern on the cabinet and wardrobe shutters.
The rooms are almost identical in plan, with the bed tucked into a niche near the window and a long study table along a wall, leaving the central area open. Arched doorways tie in with the rest of the house creating a truly unified symphony.
Project Name: Symphony of Arches
Principal Architects: Neesha Alwani & Shruti Jalan – ns*a Architecture and Interiors
Design Team: Neesha Alwani & Shruti Jalan
Area: 1650 sq.ft.
Location: Mumbai, India
Year of Completion: 2021
Photography: Suleiman Merchant