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TERRA COTTAGE, Andretta, Himachal Pradesh

Completed : 2023; 2200 sq.ft.

Client's Brief: The clients wanted a cosy cottage in a small village in Himachal Pradesh famous for pottery called Andretta.  They wanted to create a connection between the house and the nature surrounding it to live comfortably within the serenity of the mountains while enjoying the atmosphere around them, away from the bustling city life. The cottage was meant to be a small getaway home, contextually sensitive and environmentally responsive.

Concept Note:

The idea behind this cottage was to create a small building that did not compete with the site it was placed in but rather complement it. The materiality of the cottage, exposed brick was used to respond to the clay and ‘terra’ aspect of pottery that was the mainstay of the village. In order to do this judiciously a load bearing rat trap masonry system was adopted in order to create natural cavity walls and at the same time give the cottage a very specific and contextual aesthetic. Due to high rainfall sloping roofs were maintained while creating a form that through its disposition on the site creates beautiful views and green spill outs around the house.

Design Process:

The site was a linear and narrow stretch of flat land placed on the rainshadow side of a cliff overlooking a valley. The form of the building was made L shaped so as to create a front garden flanked on one side by the entrance and on the other by a living room. A semi covered spill out space connects the living room area with this green opening and works like an interesting transition between the built and the unbuilt. The rear garden was extended out from the kitchen and the living and worked as a more private and expansive green space. Bay windows were made as form elements that protruded out of the building breaking the planar façade as well as creating interesting interior spaces for sitting and enjoying the view.


The building was conceived as a composite structure of load bearing rat trap masonry walls with RCC slabs and single reinforcement earthquake columns. The rat trap masonry was detailed to create opening sizes, T, L wall joints and a very interesting lintel detail which also formed an elevational brick element. The rat trap walls doubled up as the external as well as internal aesthetic of the house as well as added in creating an isulation through cavities. Due to the voids in the wall the overall volume of brick used was reduced thereby reducing the overall load of the building. The interiors of the house was also kept simple and in sync with the surroundings with some walls in mud plaster. Flooring patterns were simple with kota stone and Jaisalmer highlights. The corridor space was designed with patterned cement terrazzo tiles laid with kota stone.

Winner, Aces of Space Design Awards 2022 –-Sustainable Design of the Year

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