The minds behind Bengaluru’s leading architecture and interior design firm, Khosla Associates, Sandeep Khosla and Amaresh Anand have been in the business for over 24 years. Khosla, a liberal arts graduate, took the plunge into the world of architecture at the prestigious Pratt University in New York. Strongly influenced by icons like Charles Correa and Geoffrey Bawa, he forged a fruitful partnership with friend Anand, an engineering graduate from the renowned BMS College in Bengaluru. The two have since created a versatile body of work, having designed many a home, office and hotel space. “Sandeep started the firm in 1995. I was just out of architecture school, looking to work with a like-minded person. In this quest, I met Sandeep and shared my portfolio with him... After working together for many years, we decided to go into a partnership. We’re now more than just partners; we are family,” says Anand. Khosla adds: “All of this happened because of the great working synergy between us, and his own capability and hard work. I don’t just consider him a work partner; he’s like a younger brother.”
Today, Khosla is the Founder + Principal of Khosla Associates, whereas Anand is the Partner + Principal. The duo takes into account three aspects of design while working on a project: the environment where the space is located; the context behind the plan; and bringing in Indian cultural influences. “These are not merely philosophies; they are aspects of any programme that we have to look at closely while designing. So apart from the practical requirements of the ergonomics of space, our environment, context and culture all play a role in determining the ultimate outcome,” Khosla elaborates. And that’s what drew them to their esteemed clients from Chennai: Sriram Viji, Managing Director at Brakes India, part of the TVS Group, and Natasha Jethanandani, a fintech entrepreneur. “This Chennai-based couple had approached us with a cold call. They had browsed our website and fallen in love with our ‘C-Plan’ house. It was only later, when they met me at my home office, did they realise that the ‘C-Plan’ house was my home!” says Khosla.
Viji and Jethanandani had a clear vision in mind. They aspired to own a climate-responsive home that would work with nature rather than against it. They had dreamt of a home surrounded by greenery, with natural light seeping in. And at the plot the couple had bought in Chennai’s posh neighbourhood of Poes Garden, the prime challenge — later, a design element — was the ancient rain tree on its southern periphery. Its magnificence eventually influenced the spatial layout of this four-bedroom property, the tree’s sculptural roots straddling the compound wall anddefining the entrance court.
“The tree, with its sculptural roots and giant canopy, was the primary influence on the layout and design of the house,” adds Anand. “We wanted it to be omnipresent, so we created the entrance court around its roots and positioned the living room to ensure that it had a direct view of it. The main compound wall on the street was also designed with certain cut-outs to accommodate some of its branches.”
Khosla and Anand received a simple brief for this nuclear-family home for the couple and their two daughters — they wanted an open vibe. The common areas the ground floor — including the living, dining and family rooms, along with the kitchen, study and guest bedroom — all flow into each other. The upper level houses the master bedroom, an open family area and two rooms for the children. The family extensively uses the main living and dining areas at the heart of the house every day, as they have the best views of the garden, the koi pond to the north and the entrance court to the south. “The family is very fond of koi, so we created a linear pond flanking the main living space. There’s a study- cum-library on the ground floor that they use for some quiet time. The ground floor family room flanking the main veranda is where they hang out to watch TV,” Khosla explains. “There’s another veranda facing the garden, where the kids learn Bharatanatyam. There’s a private family room on the upper floor for the four of them to congregate. After several conversations, we met all their needs on how they wanted to live.”
Four sliding doors gather at one end of the living area, revealing the koi pond and garden, dissolving the threshold between indoors and the outdoors. The strategic orientation also promotes cross-ventilation and south-to-north breeze, keeping the common areas on the lower floor cool in the intense Chennai summer. An element of colour also plays a crucial role in this home, the shell of which was muted with a palette of timber, concrete and polished Kota stone flooring.
“We wanted to offset this dullness with certain colours that would contrast well with the muted grey shell. We, therefore, used garnet and ochre liberally in the soft furnishings and accessories,” Anand points out. “Most of the carpets are handwoven in saree silk, while the carefully selected paintings are in oil and acrylic by contemporary Indian artists Rathin Burman, GR Iranna, C Douglas and Mahmud Husain. We sourced some antiques from Old Town in Kochi, and the decorative lighting fixtures, which act as focal points, were picked up from European brands like LZF, MarketSet and Louis Poulsen.”
Ask the designers what makes this home so special to them, and Khosla confesses: “It’s undoubtedly the interaction and closeness to nature in this urban context, the seamless transition between built form and natural environment”. “The homeowners were open to this way of living. So the house literally opens up to nature during the day and seals itself at night.
Photography: Shamanth Patil; Architecture & Interior Design: Khosla Associates Principal; Designers: Sandeep Khosla & Amaresh Anand
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s July 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!