Architect ColumnFeature

A Retreat to Reminiscences

Text by Samira Ahsan

The vacation house ‘Kolatiya residence’ locating in the outskirts area of the capital, Kolatiya, Bosila, is designed by Maliha Ahmed, partner architect of Minus Designs. The 1800 square feet house harmoniously stands on a plot area of over two bighas covering only about 1/16th of the total plot and leaving the majority of the land for landscaping, vegetation, and recreational activities.

The family dynamic was the primary concept behind this project expressed Maliha Ahmed while describing the concept briefly.  There are nine brothers and sisters in the family who spent their early years living under the same roof. The inspiration behind this house was their wish to spend time together as a family and develop the same kind of connection in their children. Therefore, the layout and arrangements came from observations made over time, which eventually formed the concept of architectural design.

The structural work on the hanging bridge required the most time. On a suspended platform, it was a long distance to cover. Even after the bridge was completed, it was treated with caution, including how to keep it from moving too much when people were on it, how to make the sound of footsteps on the metal floor quieter, and how to use it as a lighting girder for the swimming pool. However, it is a special feature of the house that the architect determined to work out at all costs. The considerately designed windows are another noteworthy aspect. The numerous standard sliding windows have integrated a locking mechanism that automatically locks when pulled shut, which implies that little children who are left unsupervised cannot open the windows. The main entrance to the plot has a unique, customized design. The 4 feet wide and nearly 9 feet tall entrance door to the house is another intriguing feature, as it was quite challenging to execute with solid wood.

There are functionally separated two floors: the ground floor is designated as “the public zone,” while the first floor is designated as “the private zone.” A sitting area, a kitchen, a dining area, and amenities for the water features—the pool and the “pukur”—are all located on the ground floor. On the other hand, the first floor includes a cozy common space, three bedrooms, and bathrooms. Anyone visiting the house will find everything they require on the ground floor, making the first floor courteously private to the guests and exclusive to the users.

One of the more inventive aspects of this project was the garden pavers, which were cast on-site. When designing the paving, the architect approached it with the idea of capturing the essence of nature in the built pavers. Various types of leaves were gathered from the area and imprinted on the wet blocks of concrete pavers, creating a distinctive design. “To this day, every time I walk by the driveway, the leaf patterns make me smile because they are one-of-a-kind and they hold the stories of this land forever,” expresses Maliha Ahmed. The interior design of the house was created in line with the minimalist design ethos of the architect herself, making the project durable as well as humble. The interior of the house appears substantially larger than its 1800 square feet because of the abundance of natural light that these windows provide throughout the day. The dark hues of the black sandstone texture on the floor play harmoniously with the sunlight.

With the site area being mostly green, there was scope for plantation, and landscaping was integral to the successful completion of the project.

The design was laid out in such a way that the landscape itself unfolds as a visitor is welcomed into the space, reaching the house at the end of the site. Starting from fruits to vegetables, an endless amount of local gardening is implemented in the gardens for the project to be more self-sufficient. In fact, the name of the residence, “Kolatiya” is also derived from the region’s specialty of growing banana trees.

The design firm of architect Maliha Ahmed was run by herself entirely. So, it took a considerable amount of time and effort to execute the design of the project. In addition to overseeing all drawings and site supervision, she selected every component, including the window frames, floor-wall finishes, and even the door handles.  All the amenities of this project are experience-based, starting from the garden with the swing, the double-height seating room, the kitchen overlooking the gardens, the dining room viewing the pond behind the house, the hanging bridge to the big rooftop to enjoy the starry nights, and so on.

Architect Profile

Maliha Ahmed

Architect Maliha Ahmed introduced her architectural venture – Minus Designs which is an endeavor emerging from the will to design spaces holistically- keeping lifestyles, climate, materials, costs, and context in mind. She believes that an architect is supposed to add to the lives of people. For her, a good design is not a luxury of objects, but rather a luxury of spaces.

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