Located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the Villa in the Woods is part of a masterplan that promotes conscious community living amidst 90 acres of Himalayan forests. With direct access from New Delhi, it lies in the Kumaon range at an altitude of 6,700 feet. The brief for the development presented a clear mandate to build a self-sufficient community in the hills, living in harmony with nature. The design scheme factors in detailed studies of the terrain, soil analyses, surface drainage, and green cover; the villa is immersed within the locale and built with minimum cut-and-fill. With construction in the hills in India rapidly rising and damaging the sensitive terrain, the architects adhered to an eco-conscious sensibility, employing pre-engineered technology with infills of Light Gauge Framing Systems (LGSF) clad with locally-sourced materials. Mandating off-site construction, the architects leveraged a custom-designed modular system that uses lightweight mild steel sections and a six-layered drywall section, allowing the three-storey structures to be assembled at site from a kit of numbered pre-engineered parts Concrete piles and tie beams anchor the superstructure, whereas the dry construction methodology allows for a smooth and clinical construction process with nearly zero-waste generation. The villa therefore treads lightly, preventing damage to the slopes and surrounding trees, and preserving the natural flow of water along the gradient. The plan for the villa follows the blueprint of nature, with each element sensitively charted out in congruence with the landscape. Designed to evoke the experience of treehouse-living, the elevated structure is capped by a pitched roof and spacious balconies, offering residents solitude and direct connection with the outdoors. The Villa is ADA-compliant with a ramped boardwalk and internal elevator ensuring disabled access throughout the home. Residents enter the main level into a living area that includes a kitchen and dining space, which doubles up as a south-facing conservatory, which maximizes the winter sun, illuminating the interiors with daylight. A north-facing deck and a south-facing court promote outdoor lounging with panoramic vistas of the forests. The floor above hosts bedrooms featuring floor-to-ceiling bay windows and skylights letting in diffused daylight. The lowermost level houses the guest bedroom, staff quarters and ancillary facilities, merging with the slope gradient under the canopy of native vegetation. The material palette of timber, slate, and local stone builds on the lexicon of the Kumaoni vernacular. The interior design scheme further underpins the treehouse experience through its use of local hand-crafted woodwork that blends classic notions of a simple wood structure with modernist angles, clean lines, and contemporary elements for a more ‘lived-in` and eclectic experience. The building orientation and fenestration design ensure daylight optimization for all spaces, minimizing energy consumption. Interior surfaces feature multi-layered insulation to regulate temperature and prevent heat loss during winters. A radiant heating system optimizes thermal comfort and energy use. The integration of the native landscape, seasonal water bodies, and tree cover ensure comfortable ambient temperatures. Hundred percent of the wastewater is recycled and reused for horticulture, and other purposes.

Constructed, Oct, 2020