Shades of Concrete
Earthy finishes, brickwork and wood are not the only ‘raw’ style of décor today – industrial finishes have entered the realm of living spaces with a crafty use of exposed concrete, wood substitutes and stainless steel to create minimalistic homes. Think of a monsoon day, the deep grey expanse and how they make everything outside just pop! Concrete is just such a modernist edge to minimalism; a neutral yet powerful backdrop for every imaginable accessory.
Till recently, concrete was considered a medium of neither elegance nor a final finish. But these five architectural and interior design studios show just how exposed concrete surfaces, each with their own character and twist, can completely transform a place!
Architecture Brio and its designers Robert Verrijt and Shefali Balwani believe in homes and spaces being designed in terms of contextually appropriate solutions – and we have the house on a stream, a residence in Alibag with a stream running through. Echoing the grey stream-bed, the retreat features exposed concrete walls in every room – the living area, bedrooms and even the bathroom – offset with wooden panelling and poster bed, the lush green outdoors and plain white walls; large windows and skylights allowing the light to stream in.
Next we have DDIR Architecture Studio and their team bringing us a stunning residence in Coimbatore. A shift from the stylistic tendencies of Architecture Brio, DDIR’s design takes a more contemporary turn – cutting out the wood and focusing on crisp straight lines, white walls and metal accents. Giving precedence to modern lighting, deep sweeping shadows and minimal home accessories, the architects Dominic Dube and Anjali Anna Philip use concrete to their full advantage.
Nupur Shah and Saahil Parikh, of We Design, pride themselves in their abiding interest in austerity and simplicity, working with indigenous construction technology and recreating spaces with class. Bordering on a style that hits the extreme of raw and almost unfinished, their project, House on the Hill, features white walls, raw stone, large surfaces of lightly textured exposed concrete with floor to ceiling windows.
Opolis Architect’s Aambey Valley project, a weekend getaway with individual villas for the joint family, uses wood, stone and concrete. With a multi-levelled ground plan and glass facades facing the east, the retreat uses exposed concrete not only functionally but decoratively as well; creating planters, wall panels and accent walls with the textured grey.
Last but definitely not the least, set in Khopoli (Maharashtra) of the Western Ghats, Spasm gives us the ‘house cast in liquid stone’ – a structure that takes inspiration wholly from the basalt and black rocky terrain of the region. Open terraces overlooking the valley ending in an open-air pool, bursts of warm colour within the house through furnishing, upholstery and warm lighting, and a façade that resonates an overhanging cliff, Sangeeta Merchant and Sanjeev Panjabi have worked with a site close to 20,000 sqft, constructing the structure only on one-third of the expanse.
Bare concrete has come to change the facets of architectural design, giving it a sense of depth, weight and serenity. It is no longer a surface that is best left concealed; exposed concrete now gives architects and interior designers who are looking for new challenges, a new dimension to experiment with.
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