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Home of an enviornmentalist
This house belongs to an educationist, environmental activist and an ardent tree lover Kobita. Settled in a villa at Villa Greens in Hyderabad, her house is ‘as designed by the builders’ but she made it into her home. The house reflects her unique personality, beliefs and convictions concerning nature and environment.
This is seen even as we step into the front garden of the house where there is an ingenious home-made hydroponics system to grow tomatoes, brinjals and other vegetables, an interest and hobby of her husband.
The backyard of the house has a garden with a variety of trees, plants and creepers. Each of them has been pruned and cut by the owner herself. In contrast to the functional front garden, the back garden with its flowering plants, trees, wind chimes, hanging planters and bells is not overly manicured and home to a large number of birds and butterflies. An ardent follower of sustainable practices, the owner does not like to sweep away all the fallen leaves from her garden. She lets them be, under the trees, as mulch to retain the moisture, improve fertility and health of the soil. The excess leaves are collected and sent to the Gandipet Recycling Unit, a unit set up by the coming together of various housing communities in Gandipet and the village panchayat. She also has a rain water harvesting pit and regularly composts the wet waste and recycles the dry.
A gazebo with stone pillars and tiled roof is built in the garden. This has a stone bench, metal and wood table and chairs and is a perfect place to sit and enjoy the view of the garden and hear the sounds of the birds along with the sound of the many big and small wind chimes hung in the garden.
As we go into the house, we are struck by the simple, clean and elegant nature of the interiors and soon realize how closely it reflects the nature and beliefs of the owner. With natural light coming in from the tall windows overlooking the back garden, the space is well ventilated and has beautiful garden views.
The furniture are all antique pieces. Sourced over a period of time, the furniture has been either handed down by family or bought at various antique stores. The owner believes that new furniture would mean more trees cut. Instead, old furniture, which is often made of good quality rosewood or teak wood, can be renewed and reused.
A plank of a swing is being reused as the low center table, long 3-seaters in the lobby space are made from her daughter’s wooden crib, which itself was passed on to her after being used by three other children in the family.
The artworks around the house are displayed at the right visual height of 5 to 7 feet and each has a story behind it. Like in a gallery, one could go around the house, looking at the pictures and knowing the story behind each of them. The tall picture on the family room console is from an artist who gifted it to the owner’s father, in return for the money lent to him. Another wall has two framed letters by the same artist and yet another wall, in the dinning space has a beautiful abstract artwork done by her daughter.
The orange colour stone stairs going to the first floor are lined with small artifacts and seashells from various travels. Photographs, origami and art works also line the space. The first floor has the daughter’s bedroom, a study, a TV area and a terrace. Another small hydroponics unit is set upon on the terrace for growing herbs. The sheer curtains all around the house are an important design element. Against the dark antique wood furniture, the curtains make the house feel light and airy.
The house runs on solar energy and the solar panels are laid out on the terrace alongside a neatly arranged row of tubs in which spinach and other leafy vegetables grow, a terrace-garden.
In today’s world, sustainable living is essential to protect our environment. Each person has their own interpretation and approach to sustainable living. Here the owner’s love for trees was her guiding principle for reusing, reinventing and recycling, and all the while creating an aesthetically pleasing homely, nostalgic environment in her home.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Robert Swan, Author
Ar. Gouri M Kasinathuni