A buzz word that has been doing the rounds in the realty sector is ‘luxury’. From over the top features to world class amenities, realtors are pulling out all stops to add the ‘luxe’ factor to their projects. A relatively less publicised element however is the architecture of these buildings. From sky bridges to state of the art building materials to top notch and cutting edge designs, architecture in luxury homes is seeing a revolution of sorts.
In Mumbai for instance, luxury housing projects are all about ensuring stunning views of the Arabian sea and architecture designed to make the most of the same for new age home owners. Omkar 1973 Worli a development offers bespoke sky bungalows with three towers with a combined height exceeding 800 meters. Amar Tendulkar, President – Design, Omkar Realtors & Developers Pvt. Ltd. explains, “the apartments are similar to actual bungalows having their own privacy and space. Each apartment has its own private elevator taking the owner directly into their living room without getting into any common lobby areas of the development, making it very exclusive, unlike housing societies.” Omkar Realtors has tied up with creator of world’s leading SPAs called ESPA from UK for whom Omkar 1973 Worli is their debut in residential project worldwide apart from Buro Happold an engineering consultancy and London based Foster + Partners. World over ESPA is known for their tailor-made rejuvenation therapies that will now be part of the ESPA Club at Omkar 1973. Another key element of the sky bungalow is the European themed cigar room done in wood and leather tones. Entrepreneur Prasoon Bhatt who has bought a home in Omkar 1973 admits that one of the reasons he invested in a home here was the experts in the architecture space associated with the project. “I have a podium view apartment which is done by LDA Design who have done the Olympic Park at the 2012 London Olympics. This gives confidence to the buyer. The design of the building is such that all flats have a sea view and the best part is that the handover came 9 months in advance.”
Having resort like features is now becoming the norm in designing luxury homes. Raheja Exotica at Madh Island, Malad (West) has Cafe Laguna the in house restaurant and Arena the amphitheatre is part of the in house club on site. Acclaimed architect, Hafeez Contractor has conceptualized and designed The Wadhwa Group’s W54 residential project in Matunga, Mumbai. There are only two apartments per floor and apartments are angled in such a way that the home owner can enjoy the sunrise and sunset. Girish Shah – Director, The Wadhwa Group explains, “the first habitable floor of W54 starts from a height of 60 metres from ground level, allowing maximum view to the occupants of the lower floors. The lower floors may not have complete visibility of the sunrise and sunset due to the presence of other buildings. The glass facade is critical in bringing a right character to the building without compromising on the comfort of the occupants of the building and the use of double glazed unit allows right amount of light to enter without the heat getting transmitted.”
Realtors are now roping in international architects. For instance, Ajmera I-land designed and planned by Singapore based architects Space matrix is smartly designed with a curvy structure that makes maximum utilization of assets and allow maximum cross ventilation. Dhaval Ajmera, Director Ajmera Realty says, “the use of natural daylight is the USP of the architectural design as no flats or terrace decks face each other to maintain privacy and also avoids obstruction and the elevation features add to the project.” Runwal Elegante at Lokhandwala in Andheri has a sky bridge, the first in Mumbai, 400 feet above sea level Sandeep Runwal, Group Director Ajmera I-land, Runwal group says, “The ‘Sky Garden’ at Runwal Elegante connects the three towers at the same terrace level that would visibly remind you of the landmark Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and we have recently received the approvals to connect the towers which would create an area of 40,000 sq ft. Another unique element of these bespoke homes is that customers have the option of having their home interiors designed by European designers. Moreover, globally renowned brands like SAPA, Notifier by Honeywel & HikVision have been used for the window systems, Fire Safety and Surveillance in the project.”
Luxury housing has made a comeback in the country and as more and more people can afford to buy ultra-luxurious homes, one of the differentiating factors has been the architecture. Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO – Residential Services, JLL India opines, “forts or palaces may be a thing of the past, but recreating the same ambience in a modern city apartment with modern amenities and latest technological advancements ensuring that functionality and design blend in seamlessly is what’s keeping the developers on their toes. This is why architecture is becoming so important with things like a simple Italian marble not being considered luxury, but the way it is used making all the difference. Based on who is going to live in the house, the architecture is designed catering to different tastes and can vary from a Mughal style to bringing in Roman touch to the entire interiors and even exteriors.” However there is a flip side to world-class and absolutely stunning architecture too as this comes with a heftier price tag and at the same time is more challenging to maintain. Also with changing tastes across generations, the design appeal may fade with time. “The buyer categories attach paramount importance to factors such as ‘exclusivity’, ‘brand value’ and also at times associate themselves to international architects while making their purchase decisions. Developers are increasingly partnering with architects and designers of international repute to build apartments with international standards and better value to the buyers. Developers intend to provide international living concepts while laying special emphasis to aspects such as design/layout, elevation, landscaping, lighting in their housing projects, thus commanding a premium over other projects,” adds Gautam Saraf, Managing Director, Mumbai, Cushman & Wakefield, India. Commenting on how architecture is becoming a USP for the luxury and affordable luxury housing sectors Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect, Architecture Discipline explains, “upmarket Residential developments go well beyond pure utilitarian and address the demands of a modern urban lifestyle. Large open well lit floor plates that allow flexibility in function and expression to its users. Most such complexes also supplement the residential spaces with amenities such as recreational spaces, pools and club houses etc. These are supplemented by built expression which is more contemporary.” Luxury in homes is changing. With the quality of space, light and air ingrained in home architecture, an exclusive home is now available to all.
Purva Palm Beach
Puravankara’s Purva Palm Beach in Bangalore is planned on the lines of a tropical beach resort complete with a lagoon across four acres with a wave pool, sunken bar, barbeque deck, snorkelling pool, koi pond, hammocks and beach volley ball! Bangalore now has a beach (well at least a beach environment).
Purva Sound of water
Purva Sound of Water is a theme based Villa project inspired by the rainforest and has an artificial waterfall built right at the top of the club house that connects with the infinity pool below and has a view of the cascading effects of water. “The No footwear zone is a serene expanse cocooned amidst the water body and thick greenery. The walkway paved with stones, pebbles and river sand helps massage your feet too,” says Ashish Puravankara, Managing Director – Puravankara Group.
A version of this story appeared in the Hindustan Times dated 25th March 2017 here.