An Eco-Conscious Sanctuary in the Himalayas
Located in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the Villa in the Woods is part of a masterplan that promotes conscious community living amidst 90 acres of Himalayan forests. With direct access from New Delhi, it lies in the Kumaon range at an altitude of 6,700 feet. The brief for the development presented a clear mandate to build self-sufficient community in the hills, living in harmony with nature.
With construction in the hills in India rapidly rising and damaging the sensitive terrain, the architects adhered to an eco-conscious sensibility, employing pre-engineered technology with infills of Light Gauge Framing Systems (LGSF) clad with locally-sourced materials. Mandating off-site assembly, they leveraged a custom-designed modular construction system that uses lightweight structural steel sections and a six-layered drywall section allowing the three-storey structure to be bolted together by hand at site from a kit of pre-engineered parts.
Concrete piles and tie beams anchor the superstructure, whereas the dry construction methodology allows for a smooth and clinical construction process with nearly zero-waste generation. The villa therefore treads lightly, preventing damage to the slopes and surrounding trees, and preserving the natural flow of water along the gradient. The villa is split on three levels to offer differentiated experiences and sightlines. It offers wheelchair accessibility and can be serviced by elevators. It is directly accessible from the road via wide boardwalks. Residents enter the main level into a living area that includes a kitchen and dining space, which doubles up as a conservatory, illuminating the interiors with dappled daylight.
A north-facing deck and a south-facing court promote outdoor lounging with panoramic vistas of the forests. The floor above hosts bedrooms featuring floor-to-ceiling bay windows and skylights letting in diffused daylight. The lowermost level houses the guest bedroom, staff quarters and ancillary facilities, merging with the slope gradient under the canopy of native vegetation.
The material palette of timber, slate, and local stone builds on the lexicon of the kumaoni vernacular. The interior design scheme further underpins the treehouse experience through its use of local hand-crafted woodwork that blends classic notions of a simple wood structure with modernist angles, clean lines, and contemporary elements.
The building orientation and fenestration design ensure daylight optimization for all spaces, minimizing energy consumption. Interior surfaces feature multi layered insulation to regulate temperature and prevent heat loss during winters. A radiant heating system optimizes thermal comfort and energy use. The integration of the native landscape, seasonal water bodies, and tree cover ensure comfortable ambient temperatures. Hundred percent of the wastewater is recycled and reused for horticulture, and other purposes.
The plan follows nature's blueprint, with each element charted out in congruence to the landscape. Designed to evoke the experience of treehouse-living, the elevated structure is capped by a pitched roof and spacious balconies, offering residents solitude and direct connection with the outdoors.