Words from Sneha Nadigar (Intern at RnG)
It is often enthralling to hear someone talk about something that is very close to their heart or very dear to them. When they take you on a journey so special and their narrative, carefully strings together all those pieces to make one perfect memory. I too, was lucky enough to experience such a narrative when I heard Mrs Amita Pai talk about her beloved home and what it meant to her.
When I was initially asked to write about the Pai residence I didn’t know much about it. But this I knew – it meant a great deal to everyone – the residents, the architects and everyone who had worked on the house. So I decided to hear the story of the house that stretches over almost two decades from those who witnessed this journey and were a part of it.
I had the privilege of meeting Mrs Pai who showed us around while describing to us the past and present of the house. She was in appreciation of what the architects had done and how the house had changed.
She explained to us how the house had transformed to what it was today with a subtle glint of pride in her eyes. But at the end of it she smiled meekly and said, “If it were my choice, I’d still like to live in my old house.” When asked if the current building didn’t appeal to her as much, she simply said, “it may look better than before but the house still holds 18 years’ worth of priceless memories that are very dear to me. Someday in the near future, I hope to live among those memories, secured by the same four walls.
A house is made of wall and beams but a home is built with love and dreams. How each one perceives the idea of a home varies from one person to another. Hence it is important to understand and validate these varied perceptions and evolve something in congruence with the same.
Home is the most popular and will be the most enduring of all earthly establishments. This was true in every aspect especially with this house. It is easier to pull down than to build up. The attachment of the residents to the house was so profound that they decided to retain the old house just the way it was. So we decided to adopt the concept of creating without destroying. This was an added challenge as usually all our projects start off with a blank canvas. But here, we already had a fixed framework to work around. This project was also one of the rare, pleasing exceptions to the noticeable trend of urban homes in recent times where the ties between the residents and the home itself have slackened over time.
The previously existing house consisted of two bedrooms, a living, kitchen with attached utility and a puja. They also had an open terrace solely to themselves. The client’s family grew over the years, which also called for an expansion in their home. Post renovation saw several changes in the house but only as an addition to what already existed. A three bedroom dwelling was introduced on the first floor with a veranda- terrace out front. Additionally, a studio unit was built on one part of the second floor, the rest of which functions as a terrace.
The transformation was diligently crafted hence the residence now stands as a life size studio showcasing the work of the firm. Whenever clients seek a glimpse of our work they are walked through the journey of this house.
Even though it was a hurried meeting, we learnt everything that the house had to offer and walked away from it as two contented souls. Me, for having the nicest conversation with the lady of the house and she for being able to share her stories with someone. And as I close up on this article, I feel a lot closer to that modest home than I did before. Now every time I walk past the residence I quietly smile to myself as I watch the trees and the house have a silent conversation of how they’ve grown with time, either for better or for worse.