The Space In-Between
This house outside Mumbai in India is, says Jagan Shah, a refuge and a retreat. Designed by Studio Mumbai, the house communes with the natural world, a refuge from the chaos of the nearby city
It is the magic of dwelling as man in the world that if our gestures of dwelling – what we call homes, houses, residences – are friendly to nature, nature rises to receive us, gives us place to dwell.
So it is with the Utsav House, where the architects have created a dwelling place rising from a micro-habitat of water and plants, its architectonic expression delineating a space, capturing a piece of the rugged undulating coastal landscape and domesticating it. It is at once colonisation of space and territory as well as the satisfaction of a need in their client to find escape from the stresses of life in Mumbai.
As this piece is written, the principal architects of Utsav House – Bijoy and Priya Jain – are winning acclaim for their installation ‘In-between Architecture’, evoking Mumbai, at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ongoing show: 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces.
Seen together, the house and the installation represent the complexity of the conversation the Jains are having with their audience. At the V&A, they inscribe a “compact space” within an expansive courtyard by creating a wall that is itself a home. Their Utsav House is a compaction of landscape itself, capturing space within a rectangular composition of walls. Making walls is an abiding interest and creative preoccupation in Studio Mumbai’s work.
The wall both evokes the primordial act of marking space, with a staff or a line, and as well supports the spatial composition that originates from these lines, passes through them and rests against them…
Words: Jagan Shah
Photography: Helen Binet