In Mumbai, India, it is hard to ignore the informal settlements in the city: if looked at it closely there are many lessons to be learnt in frugality, adaptability, multi-tasking, resourcefulness and ingenuity. It emerges a visual language of the found object, ad-hoc, eclectic, patched and collaged that the architectural studio S+SP Architects tried to apply in this private house, without romanticizing or fetishizing them.
The project looks at the idea of recycling and collage in several ways, from the very physical – like materials and energy, to the intangible – like history, space and memories. The front façade sets the tone for what lies within, with a “corner of windows” that recycles old windows and doors of demolished houses in the city. This becomes a major backdrop for the living room with an exposed concrete faceted ceiling that faces a polished white marble with intricate brass inlay on the floor.
Metal pipe leftovers pieced together resembling bamboo form a “pipe wall” that integrates structural columns, rainwater downtake pipes and a sculpture of spouts that in the monsoon trigger all the senses. In the central courtyard you can find some scrap rusted metal plates that are riveted together, and tile samples in bright colors retain a planter in the middle. On the third side there is a wall clad in cut-waste stone slivers, lifted off the back of stone cutting yards and waste material generated on site during the building process.
Hundred-year-old columns from a dismantled house bring back memories, and nostalgia is nourished with a lightweight, steel and glass pavilion (with solar panels above) on the terrace level overlooking fabulous views down the hillside. This approach is reinforced again in the interior materials and elements. It plays up this contrast between the old and the new, the traditional and the contemporary, the rough and the finished. One finds use of recycled materials like old textile blocks, flooring made out of old Burma teak rafters and purlins, colonial furniture, fabric waste (chindi). Together with this, the architects searched new ways of using traditional elements and materials like carved wooden mouldings, beveled mirrors and heritage cement tiles.