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Lokurs’ home – blending the old with the new

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For some people, home evokes a sense of being rooted, of being connected to the umbilical cord of the forefathers for generations. These people try and carry a piece of the home wherever they go. Some others, like Vaibhav Lokur, his father Ashok and mother Shobha Lokur, decide to preserve the ‘emotion’ associated with their old home in whatever way they can. If you have passed through Somwar peth Belagavi recently, you wouldn’t have missed the old style, new home named ‘Indira’. It stands in place of the old house of the Lokurs with the same name.

Vaibhav Lokur is a maverick artist, known for his love for and work in, theatre. During one such theatre expedition to Sambhavnaa Institute at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), he happened to come across a splendid house designed by Didi Contractor, the famous self taught architect.

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He posted the picture on Facebook and it resonated with Belagavi based architect Suyash Khanolkar (of the studio ‘Cicada’) who responded to the picture because he had worked on this project by Didi.

What started as a simple back and forth of messages on Facebook led to the designing of the new ‘Indira’ house. Meanwhile, the Lokurs had already set the ball rolling for a new building in a complete modern way. However, once Suyash came into picture, the whole canvas changed. Vaibhav and Suyash met and a whole new realm of preserving the emotions attached with the old Terracotta tiled roof, mud-walls house came to the fore.

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They decided to change the plan completely. The old house which was demolished gave away plenty of good quality wood, perfectly chiseled stones and doors which were to be used in the new structure with some redesigning.

The new house may not resemble the old, but it carries within its folds plenty of elements that bring back memories of a house well-lived in. The highlight is the entrance, which has used the ‘Blue door’ from the old house. Sturdy, like a rugged rural brat, its imposing look and the Terracotta tiled roof over it perfectly captures the old house’s essence. All the wood for the new building came from salvaged beams and doors that made way for windows and furniture inside.

Stones up to the plinth area are also from the old building and so is the extended wall on one side. Suyash decided to create interior walls with cured debris from the demolition lending it strength. These stabilized mud walls give a very earthy, soothing feel within the house and keep it cool. The roof for the second floor is made using double layered tiles. Even during peak summer, the house is way cooler than any other house in Belagavi.

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Plenty of windows with multiple small doors enable cross ventilation. An open plan hall leading to the kitchen provides a seamless visual appeal. Vaibhav’s bedroom is angular, allowing direct access to view the well from a window that doubles up as his study table, and the Tulasi Vrindavan, something he insisted for. All the doors of the new house come from the old one and so did the old chests of drawers, classic wooden cabinets, small book shelves and more creating a sense of dramatic nostalgia.

The second floor of the house has two parts, each accessible with a separate staircase. It has an amazing design with the luxurious space utilized judiciously. One side of the house is a 1BHK unit which could easily fit a 2BHK! Wide breezy sit-out, open plan hall and kitchen and large utility areas make give it a studio apartment like feel. The other side is reserved for an AirBnB facility in the future.

The wide backyard is a theatre lover’s fantasy with a massive tall teakwood tree posing as a perfect prop. Vaibhav plans to use this space for performing arts in the near future. The whole house has a warm, lived in feeling, reminiscent of an old world. It is a perfect example of how a talented architect can translate your seemingly weird requests from a house.

Suyash Khanolkar, who has earned his stripes from the past 8 years as an architect, is well versed with working with different materials and could design a house that captures the old charm perfectly, while still being amazingly functional and modern. Vaibhav and Shobha are both artists and this house is like a long loved poem for them. They have also retained the element of a large hall which they can use for gatherings to host people and artists.

Belagavi people rue the fact that old houses are being demolished to make way for new concrete blocks. Many such home owners can take a leaf out of the example set by the Lokurs. It is possible to build something new without losing the essence of the old. After all, home is where the heart is.

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