Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 32: The joy of turning 60 !

View of the entrance courtyard, part of deck and pool pavilion
We have a small milestone to celebrate this week. We are completing 32 weeks into construction at our project site. With a projected total of 12-14 months as our construction timeline, we are close to the 60% milestone. The real reason to celebrate is that we have completed 60% of construction on-site and are almost on-track to finish within our projected schedule. For anyone who has built in India, this is quite a considerable feat. Projects in India are ridden with unexpected and often unexplained delays mainly due to the unorganized construction industry, loose legal frameworks and maybe skewed priorities among builders and contractors. While design is all glamorous and intellectual, the construction process is where one needs to get down and dirty with all kinds of details of sourcing the right materials, controlling quality on-site, meeting deadlines and coordinating with the various professionals involved. Our team deserves a lot of credit, they are working hard and have a common unique trait (that is central to our hiring process but sadly not that easy to find), they all "take pride in their work".

Last month, we had the privilege of a visit from two prominent architects from Delhi to our site. They left with two comments. First - "Finishing a project in India in 12 months is only possible if it is regular building, it is very difficult to finish a project in that time while building the way you are building". I guess they were referring to our load bearing stone wall structure that require much longer to build than a typical concrete structure, plus the large size of our rooms with high ceilings and possibly to the fact that we have very large openings and not little pigeon hole windows and doors. Their second comment was, "If the talent exists then how come we do not see buildings in Goa built in even half as conscientious manner as you are building." This is the best compliment we have received so far and I was joyous to hear this observation.

At our 60% milestone, we have completed nearly 90% of our civil works, electrical and internal plaster. Civil works for external landscaping is almost 50% complete. We are now busying ourselves with the internal and external door frames, plumbing and flooring.
Sketch rendering of our elevations and opening design
Since, we keep talking about our extra large openings, it is clearly evident that they are critical to our design proposition. We have gone back to our drawing boards many times in order to perfect the design of the fixed and movable doors and windows. The final design looks like the rendering above. All openings will comprise of fixed glass windows on top with wood louvers and movable sliding door panels below. The movable panels will all have a fixed shutter on one corner with wood louvers. All the remaining sliding doors when opened will stack behind this fixed frame. The louvers are designed such that they provide an interesting play of light and shadow within the room at different times of day. Louvers reduce direct sunlight and glare into the rooms. On the other hand, louvers also reduce the visibility to the outside. Keeping this in mind, the openings have been carefully designed with a balance of louvered panels and ones with clear glass.

Sample of a fixed louvered section of the opening built on-site for review
Another interesting functional design feature in our external opening design is that the fixed louver panels will actually be fitted with mosquito nets and have a sliding glass door behind them. This is our proposed solution after various design iterations to address the following conflicting factors that influence living in Goa:
- the ability to keep the doors open for as long as one can to connect with nature
- the insurgence of mosquitoes at dusk specially during monsoons
- the ability to allow for cross ventilation at all times of day even when there are mosquitoes, or if it is raining, or for any other reason the doors need to be kept closed
- the need to make the space air-tight if the use of mechanical air-conditioning is needed

Attention to details such as this comes only from living in a place through the seasons to know peculiarities in climate and livability. Trust me, I wish I had mosquito nets in the openings in my house that allowed cross ventilation, did not block my view, were easy to clean, not stuck with velcro, did not obstruct my ability to open and close my windows and most importantly kept the mosquitoes out but the breeze in.

Another key success of adding nets to the openings is enabling cross ventilation at all times and reducing the need for mechanical air-conditioning at all times of the day throughout the year. This reduces the energy requirement of the house and the pressure of added development on the land.

As a result of our opening design, 100% of our living spaces are daylit. This is based on the math that shows that 100% of our living area has a daylight factor of at least 2%. (Daylight Factor = Window Area/ Floor Area X Actual Visible Transmittance X Constant)

In addition, 100% of our living spaces have access to fresh air ventilation. This calculation is based on the area of openable windows as a proportion of the living area of each room.

Both these statistics far exceed the standards for Indoor Air Quality as mandated by leading green guidelines as being critical to healthy living.

So far so good. looking forward to more happy discoveries and experiments in the remaining 40%. 

Read more about us and our team.


  1. Congratulations! Glad nothing is holding you up including the non-stop rain we've been having lately!

  2. Congratulations!! I can only imagine the organization, motivation and coaching skills you must have, beyond architectural and design talent. We're finding even with a building already constructed, trying to do little things outside the norm of what contractors are used to doing is pretty difficult. Can't wait to continue watching your building progress!

  3. Thank you Deb and Miss Frangipani, I really appreciate the encouragement and kind words. We are moving along and can hopefully finish in the next 3 months or so. I am keeping my eye on the ball and trying not to blink !



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