A home in harmony with nature and the family’s way of life
The Mandala House is built on two plots of amalgamated land in an exclusive residential enclave in Bangalore, India. Comprising three storeys with seven bedrooms, it was originally designed for the homeowner (who runs a successful family business in the building materials trade), his wife and three children. After completion, the homeowner’s elderly parents, as well as two of his brothers and their families, moved in and turned the abode into a multigenerational home.
As the family wanted a home to reflect their roots and traditions with a modern design, architect Wong Chiu Man, managing director of WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design, looked to the ancient Indian architectural system of vastu shastra for inspiration. Literally translated as “the science of architecture”, the principles of vastu shastra can be applied to design, layout, measurements, ground preparation and spatial geometry. It incorporates traditional Hindu and, in some cases, Buddhist beliefs, and is intended to harmonise man-made architecture with nature. This doctrine is based on directional alignments organised around the nine-square mandala, which forms the conceptual framework for the design of this home. The plan is generated from the mandala’s nine-square grid, which is then extrapolated three storeys up, resulting in a massing that consists of 27 cubes. “Using this as a starting point, some of these modules are carved out as voids to articulate the spatial relationships within the home,” explains Wong.
One such relationship is evident on the first storey, where the spaces are arranged around and completely open to a central void, which is the garden courtyard. The entrance foyer is designed according to vastu shastra orientations as well. “As it establishes a first impression for the home, the entrance foyer had to be impressive, but not overly grand,” says Wong.
CONNECTING WITH NATURE
The living room is the main formal entertainment area and was designed in relation to the surrounding garden and pool. The lofty space has full-height glass panels on two sides that open out to the pool. Bangalore’s mild weather makes it possible for these full-height sliding doors to remain open throughout the day, maintaining a strong, direct connection between the home’s indoors and outdoors. The way the turquoise pool wraps around the front and side of the living room imbues it with the quality of a floating pavilion. Striking a balanced harmony without stealing the limelight from the surroundings, the interior of the living room is furnished modestly with Minotti sofas and chairs, a bespoke rug designed by WOW and hand-tufted by Tai Ping Carpets, and a custom-made chandelier by Windfall that resembles a canopy of twinkling stars. The dining room is a long communal space that frames external views of the courtyard. Designed in the style of an open terrace, it turns the focus towards the pool and gardens, just like the living area. The space is anchored by a formal 12-seat dining table designed by WOW and crafted by Poliform, and a Windfall chandelier that looks like a bouquet of flowers to complement the garden theme.
As seen in this home, the ancient Indian architectural system of vastu shastra is intended to harmonise man-made architecture with nature
The openness of the design relates to the Indian communal way of life, where the extended family is supported and included in the homeowner’s daily life and rituals
WAY OF LIFE
The openness of the design stems from cultural influences. “It relates to the Indian communal way of life, where the extended family is supported and included in the homeowner’s daily life and rituals,” explains Wong. There is also a clear hierarchy between different levels within the home, he elaborates. “The first storey is a more public zone that revolves around the ceremonies of Indian culture. As we move higher up, the spaces become more enclosed and private to cater to the exclusive use of the immediate family.” The family lounge, for instance, is located on the second storey and was designed as a casual space for the family to relax and enjoy some entertainment in the evenings. It is elevated above the dining room and was conceived as a courtyard in the sky. The Flexform furniture, custom millworks and cabinetry designed by WOW and fabricated by Poliform, and the rug by Tai Ping Carpets all complement the understated elegance of the family lounge. The downward-spiralling form of the Windfall chandelier further accentuates the verticality of this double-volume space
and takes its cue from the spiral staircase feature of the home. Designed as a sculptural element, the spiral staircase is purposefully suspended above a reflective pool. It meanders up towards a skylight, connecting the various levels of the home through an enclosed atrium courtyard. WOW’S scope of works included architecture, and interior and landscape design—and the project reflects the firm’s commitment to designing with cultural memory and place in mind. Materiality was also an important aspect in the design of the home. “The purity and simplicity of the spaces are enriched by the very fine sense of material presence, exuded in every surface and every detail,” emphasises Wong. “This refined sensibility is also conveyed through the high degree of customisation and impeccable craftsmanship that was carried through from the furniture and millwork within the home to the external facade, metal screens and cladding.” For the homeowner and his family, the process of developing their home has also been a journey of self-discovery and aesthetic awareness. They embraced the project with passion—and it ultimately became a manifestation of their way of thinking and their outlook on the world.