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RKDS’s brick house in New Delhi is a modernist-inspired material patchwork

Architecture and interiors meet in a contemporary homage to modernism in this New Delhi house by RKDS, headed by principal architect Martand Khosla. Photography: Edmund Sumner.
Architecture and interiors meet in a contemporary homage to modernism in this New Delhi house by RKDS, headed by principal architect Martand Khosla. Photography: Edmund Sumner.

Located in South Delhi, this multi-generational family house designed by locally based RKDS is defined by the masterful composition of its materials; exposed brick, concrete and steel, complemented by teak louvers that bring pattern and privacy to the architecture. The project marked the architects’ first building that includes both exterior and interior design, offering an opportunity to create a design that features openness, a modernist-inspired aesthetic and the use of raw materials inside and out.

The house is formed of three distinct volumes. A narrow front block is clad in stone, with teak louvers and steel frames sheltering the terraces; a middle block is constructed of brick and concrete; and finally, a concrete structure retained from a previous house on the site.

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The brick facade of RKDS’s Brick House. Photography: Edmund Sumner

A neat corner addition to a row of conventional semi-detached buildings, the house occupies a wedge-shaped plot. The original house on site was poorly built, awkwardly shaped and dark, so after briefly considering a redesign, the architects decided to abandon that idea and work on a completely new house. One block was retained from the original structure that became the service core for the new build, holding the generators, water tanks and two staff quarters.

This move was strategic – the architects were keen to open up the front of the house to the street. With considerable experience in residential architecture in New Delhi, RKDS wanted this house to be a departure from the norm; that meant filling up the site right up to the edges. This design enables the volumes to be slightly set back from the street, preserving an existing full grown Gulmohar tree on site.

While the overall architecture communicates with the street, each layer brings privacy to the interior. With the living areas at ground level, the upper floors hold four bedrooms, connected by a double-height family room: ‘There were several conversations about the nature of the relationship that we wanted set up between the siblings and the two generations’, explain the architects.

The entrance to the house is open to the street, yet still offers the residents privacy. Photography: Edmund Sumner

‘In an increasingly digital age, we aimed to disrupt trends of cellular living by designing common social spaces that allow for autonomy and collectiveness simultaneously for all. In that sense the double-height family space forces social contact at perhaps a more banal but extremely vital day to day manner,’ they continue.

Raw concrete ceilings, exposed brick and plaster walls continue the spirit of the exterior inside, while refined materials such as white marble chip flooring with brass inlay grid patterns and mild steel and brass railings bring a softer elegance to living spaces.

RKDS used the interior as an opportunity to explore modernist ideas further; primary colours, such as red, green and yellow, were used in the common areas of the house, while the furniture references iconic architects of the same era that inspire the work of RKDS, including Pierre Jeanneret, Corbusier, Gio Ponti, Eileen Grey and Eero Saarinen. §

The house is defined by its distinctive use of teak louvers for shading. Photography: Edmund Sumner

Primary colours were used in the common areas of the house, referencing modernist designs. Photography: Edmund Sumner

A double height family at the house’s heart connects levels and zones. Photography: Edmund Sumner

The furniture choices include Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, Gio Ponti, Eileen Grey and Eero Saarinen. Photography: Edmund Sumner

The architects used the interior as an opportunity to explore colour and modernismPhotography: Edmund Sumner

A variety of rich materials, such as white marble chip flooring with brass inlay grid patterns, make for a finely detailed interior. Photography: Edmund Sumner

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