SPACES -Home

February, 2017

Raya Shankhwalker, Architect

The small sea-facing state of Goa in western India is home to several European architecture styles, thanks to its long colonial history. While the Portuguese mostly ruled over the area, there are also Mughal influences to be found in the region. Many of the churches and homes built in the 16th and 17th century sport the Portuguese Baroque style, while towards the early part of the 20th century, under British influences, there was a shift towards Neo-classical and Gothic Revival styles. Some of the characteristics typical to Goan architecture include elements like the houses opening into courtyards and rarely onto streets. The houses are typically outward looking and ornamental, with balcões (covered porches) and verandahs facing the street. The large balcões had builtin seating, where people could gather. These balcões were bordered by ornamental columns that sometimes continued along the steps and added to the stature of the house. Red Mangalore tiles were used for the roofing and large ornamental windows with stucco mouldings (similar to mouldings found in Portuguese houses). These are elements you will notice in a Goan home. The use of columns or pilasters and railings is also popular. If you ever wondered about the colourful hues you see when driving around Goa even today, there is a bit of history attached to them.

 Architecture, to us, must not only create wonderful spaces to live, work and play but it must be a key participant in the shaping of the built environment and the sustainability of our planet.

history attached to them. There was an unwritten rule during the Portuguese occupation of Goa that no private house or building could be painted in white. Only churches and chapels enjoyed this privilege. Inspired by all these elements, Raya Shankhwalker Architects, a Goa-based design studio, creates contemporary spaces that provide a cultural and historical context. Their Villa at Assagao is a project designed for Vivara Homes which is part of a line of signature luxury homes. The project is a vacation home that encapsulates the essence of Goan architecture and a laid-back vibe. "The brief that was followed was to create a home that is contemporary yet draws information from vernacular building styles while maintaining an eco-sensitive balance. The home is designed such that it offers the luxuries of a vacation home along with the comforts of a residential property. It has a casual ease synonymous with Goan living,

drawing inspiration from the traditional Goan house yet engaging the latest trends in tropical lifestyle design making it comfortable yet chic. The seamless connection between the surrounding landscape and interior spaces became a key design driver for the project," says Raya Shankhwalker, architect and owner of the studio. Much like Goan homes, this home also invites nature in with an open layout and offers stunning views. "The home is designed to accommodate semi-open large verandahs and

The key rooms of the house such as the bedrooms and the living and dining areas, have a picturesque view of the lush tropical foliage.

balconies at both levels, which become the most revolutionary spaces in the home. The key rooms of the house such as the bedrooms and the living and dining areas, give a picturesque view of the paddy field outside and lush tropical foliage. All spaces are well illuminated and ventilated and seamlessly connect to the outdoors," says Shankhwalker. The studio sourced most of the interesting furniture and décor elements locally. "Sourcing objects of everyday use such as bharnis and cane baskets from vendors in the local

Goan markets and repurposing them into objects of varying functionality or simply objects of décor was an interesting task. The chairs in the balconies and verandahs are traditional wooden chairs with 'Rotacao' panels sourced from a heritage Goan home. Trunks were sourced from Mumbai and repurposed to become side tables fusing a pop of colour. The bedroom houses a canopy bed that compliments the high pitch roofed ceilings," explains Shankhwalker. Other striking and obvious introductions of Goan architecture can be found in the colours as well as the materials used to construct the home, like the flooring and tiles on the roof. "The colour palette is a combination of whites, browns and greys that effortlessly blend with the hues of green in the landscape around the

Goan markets and repurposing them into objects of varying functionality or simply objects of décor was an interesting task. The chairs in the balconies and verandahs are traditional wooden chairs with ‘Rotacao’ panels sourced from a heritage Goan home. Trunks were sourced from Mumbai and repurposed to become side tables fusing a pop of colour. The bedroom houses a canopy bed that compliments the high pitch roofed ceilings,” explains Shankhwalker. Other striking and obvious introductions of Goan architecture can be found in the colours as well as the materials used to construct the home, like the flooring and tiles on the roof. “The colour palette is a combination of whites, browns and greys that effortlessly blend with the hues of green in the landscape around the house. Pop coloured highlights have been introduced in the home with accent cushions, rugs and art pieces. For the purpose of construction, we have used local material such as brick, laterite stone, recycled wood and Mangalore tiles. The material palette is all natural – with extensive use of stone and wood. Kotah stone is used for flooring while some areas are covered in yellow IPS,” adds Shankhwalker. The brick statement wall in the living room along with the cart repurposed as a table is a lovely décor element that adds to the casual vibe of the home. One can relax in the central areas of the home with views of the pool and landscape around, thanks to the large French windows truly making it a vacation home that brings Goa indoors.

The composite effect of this threshold is a twozoned space balancing openness and privacy,

In the vast rural fields south of Montreal, a new residence takes root. Like a fieldstone unveiled amongst the furrows of a ploughed field, a stratified monolith of slate emerges from the earth. Eroded, sculpted and fragmented by time and the forces of nature, this mineral formation becomes the pedestal upon which new life is anchored. The home was designed for a couple exchanging their city home for the country life. Situated in the village of Hemmingford in southern Quebec, this distinctly modern residence unfolds onto the surrounding rural landscape and honours the many features of its rich agricultural past: expansive fields and orchards; weathered fences; an old barn clad in wood; and the ruins of the original farmhouse’s foundations. All these contextual cues influenced the site layout and architecture of this private residence designed for a couple who left their home in the city for a life in the country. The sun’s course throughout the changing seasons, as well as precise views over the fields, guided the home’s orientation and site location, while the old fieldstone foundation walls of the former farmhouse are preserved as artefacts to welcome the visitor and lead them to the main entrance while bearing witness to the memory of the place.



This 3,500-square-foot house features interior spaces that are open, fluid and awash in natural light. The residence is composed of two distinct two-storey volumes on either side of a double-height space containing the main entrance, a monumental stair and a glass-floored footbridge on the second level. With double-height floor-to-ceiling windows at both extremities, this space offers expansive views over the entire property. The composite effect of this threshold is a twozoned space balancing openness and privacy. On the ground floor, on one side of the stairs, are the open-plan living and dining areas, both enjoying targeted views of the surrounding landscape. On the other side of the stairs, the kitchen leads to the verandah and game room just a few steps higher. A series of sliding windows between the kitchen and verandah open out allowing the kitchen counter to transform into an island shared between the interior kitchen and the verandah. On the second level, a glass floor traverses the doubleheight entrance hall at the top of the stairs. This bridge ensures a transition between the second level’s more private side containing the master suite (bedroom, walk-in closet and open bathroom) and the more communal spaces on the other side (library, office and guest suite). The exterior cladding of the house is composed of slate sourced from a nearby quarry in the Eastern Townships. As opposed to a typical natural stone cladding of thin slabs fixed to an exterior wall structure, the slate is cut into blocks of varying length and set in strata like bricks. A custom technical

SIMARD, ARCHITECTURE FIRM ON THE PROJECT:
What was the vision for the home?
Spaces designed at a human scale. Architecture envelops us, frames our interactions and illuminates our daily rituals, to accompany the important stages and events of our lives. A space must be designed around the activities, interests and aspirations of those who will inhabit it. Only then will the quality of the built environment contribute to one’s well-being.


What was the approach taken for the home?
All places carry enormous potential. Each project merits profound reflection because all sites offer unique opportunities. Whether a large urban densification development or a small rural addition, SIMARD architecture analyses the unique constraints linked to program, social, historical and environmental context to formulate the questions from which the best architectural solution can emerge. The result with this home was an innovative and detailed project that is grounded in technical rigour and enhances the appreciation of the place.

The exterior cladding of the house is composed of slate sourced from a nearby quarry in the Eastern Townships.
detail was developed to extend this cladding to exterior ground level in order to dissimulate the crown of the concrete foundation walls. Like a stone heaved from the frozen earth, the house rises from the field. This natural slate also covers the floors of the entrance, verandah and terrace. This continuity of materials and surfaces blurs the boundary between the residence and its environment perceptually extending the interior spaces outwards. Echoing the old barn, wooden cedar planks are employed as a secondary cladding on the house. This material is left untreated and, in the same way as the adjacent barn, will weather and develop its own patina. With the passing of time, the house will become increasingly fused with its surrounding environment.