The Hill Haven, Uttrakhand
Sited on top of a Hill, in Saattal (Hindi for “seven lakes”), miles away from the chaos of the city, The Hill haven is a weekend cottage retreat for an urban Indian multi-generation family. Saattal is a group of seven freshwater lakes near the Himalayas, in the Uttarakhand district of India. Famous for its Oak and Pine trees, the lake sits scenically in the Mehragaon valley.
The cottage is sited at the peak of a hilly area, with a glorious view of the valley. The Built form is designed to optimize the views of the valley and to provide maximum open space for the inhabitants. Being a holiday home, the house is planned with common spaces in an open-plan format, with private spaces as well. Each space is designated to have a valley view- hence, multiple spaces are created such as private balconies, common verandahs and a porch to enjoy the weather, the rains and an open terrace to sun bathe. The ground floor houses the common activities, where the family can spend leisure time together, cooking and eating, whereas the first floor accommodated the private spaces.
Abundant natural light filters through the house through huge windows through which the sun set and the dawn of neighbouring nainital and the lakes can be enjoyed. The windows also allow for views of the valley from all parts of the house, and open-air living. A Natural wood fireplace, built from locally available material is created in the living area to enjoy the wintery nights, looking out into the valley. Locally available materials are used to build ecologically. The locally available stone renders the home with an earthly quality and aids in the merging of the built form with the landscape. Solar water heating is provided to maximize the direct sunlight. The building is designed as a concrete framed structure with brick infills as walls. Locally available stone cladding has been done on the façade to blend with the existing environment. The entire construction has been done with the help of local craftsmen’s to use their skills and to generate work for them in that area.
The site is well equipped with solar panels for solar water heating and rain water harvesting pits, keeping in mind the energy and water conservation. Onsite vegetation has been maintained and preserved. The house has been designed to respect the site conditions. The spaces are designed in such a way that each space opens out onto expansive views of the sun set and the mountains. The design of the house has been thought through to achieve cross ventilation throughout the day and therefore there is no need for air-conditioning in peak summers also. Also a variety of spaces have been created like verandahs and balconies to enjoy all types of weather conditions. The intent of the interior design is to provide a cosy modern rustic cottage feel to the spaces. The flooring for most of the spaces is done in wood which is a classic; it also adds warmth and character to the interiors while keeping the floor warm during winters. A Natural wood fireplace, built from locally available material is created in the living area to enjoy the wintery nights, looking out into the valley. The house has plenty of daylight during the day and only requires artificial light during in the evening/night. The sloping roof has been highlighted in the interiors in the bedrooms on the first floor which also helps in providing higher heights and bigger volumes. The landscaping has been kept fairly simple with a large garden and flower beds, to keep the emphasis on the natural surroundings and bring in nature into the built volume.
Designed as a home away from home, the house is equipped with all facilities. Simplistic in Design and materiality, the house is designed around the needs of the family, whilst blending beautifully with its surroundings and context.