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This Aamby Valley bungalow is both luxe and eco-conscious in design

Lonavala’s sprawling Aamby Valley City always comes into its own during the monsoon. On his first familiarization trip to a bungalow in the township, Kanhai Gandhi was struck by the fog and rain clouds that descended low, making them appear as though they were within the house. “This mirage made us want to blend the environs with an earthy colour scheme that was embellished to the house,” explains the co-founding principal architect at Mumbai’s KNS Architects. “The dilapidated structure’s faceted ceiling became the main source of our inspiration in this house. It has the look of an uncut mountain which then influenced the flooring choices that have angular patterns,” he adds. The geometry eventually gave character to the entire house, as everything from the staircase, to the ceiling lights and their connecting wires, has been placed at dramatic angles.
The project was christened the Upcycled House since almost all the decor employs recycled or upcycled building materials. This thoughtful design intervention reduced its carbon emissions by 86% compared to a benchmark house, the architect claims. “The client is a well-known builder who has tons of material available from different sites at hand. The challenge was to optimize the use of these materials,” Gandhi says.
The house overlooks a picturesque valley on a large, landscaped site of 20,000 square feet. The layout was designed to be expansive and encourage organic connections between spaces. Openings in key areas like the living room and bedrooms were included to facilitate a link between the indoors and outdoors. “A conscious attempt was made to preserve elements of the original house like some major walls and the staircase,” Gandhi adds.

A mushroom grey tone dominates the facade of the 5,000-square-feet building, and a black entrance reveals a double-heighted living room which makes the home appear more voluminous. The ground floor also has two bedrooms, a dining room, a private cinema with a separate pantry and powder room, and porch.


The house’s flooring has a subtle play of lines that lend direction to the space. This starts right from the driveway, which is paved in reused grey blocks broken by flamed granite in a chevron pattern. These diagonal lines take their form from the pitched roof and the geometry continues in the house as flooring patterns, stair shapes, conduit layouts and railings. “The driveway was made entirely from the residue available from other sites,” Gandhi points out.

Through the landscaped front lawns, we reach the front porch, which is flanked by two large vases. The original house’s staircase was retained and converted to a sculptural element adjacent to the entrance foyer, with chamfered steps in keeping with the theme of a subtle, unexpected treatment to conventional objects.

Living and Dining Rooms

The house follows a monochromatic colour scheme, with mushroom grey being used for most surfaces. The architects avoided focused lighting in favour of ambient light fixtures like chandeliers and faceted ceilings that reflect light in interesting ways, to make the inhabitants feel at ease. The light conduits have been laid diagonally on walls and are exposed, lending a rawness to the otherwise warm home. The living room chandelier is reminiscent of a beehive, which casts interesting shadows above the double height living room, putting on a show for the family lounge above, which overlooks the space. The sofas and chairs, from the owner’s ancestral home in Gujarat, have been repurposed and add just the right burst of colour to the muted interiors. The dining and nested coffee tables are by Confido Home.


The kitchen builds on the sustainable philosophy of the house—the counters, for example, have been made from leftover paver blocks. Dark coloured cabinets by Confido Home complement the mushroom grey on the walls, a continuation of the house’s monotone exterior.

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