“Forest Life” is a mixed residential and commercial project located in Gundala, 35 km south of Hyderabad city centre, India. The aim was to create an eco-community with different individual villa typologies located within the existing forest, next to a much denser mixed use development with residential towers and a commercial plinth with shops, leisure activities and offices located along the main road leaving Hyderabad towards the south. A communal sport / cultural centre and a temple were also located amongst the Villas and the Forest.
The design focuses on the integration of the existing natural landscape, the slope and the forest with the built environment. The typologies of the villas are based on the idea of a natural living in symbioses with nature. The garden is experienced as an extension of the living room. Patios and balconies include nature within the lived in environment. The boundaries between outside and inside are intentionally blurred.
The client had very strict requirements imposing rectangular plots and north south orientation following the “vastu” principles for the infrastructure and the residential units. This gave birth to an interesting planning methodology combining a strict matrix grid of built structures interweaving with the natural elements of the site: Forest, water, topography. The interconnections between the different small quarters were one of the most important criteria of the urban design to insure that each unit is accessible by car, foot or cycle. Every part of the site is reachable via a network of half natural half landscaped public green spaces penetrating the built structure and creating zones for social interaction and natural screens that create spaces of privacy. Each living unit has one front access to a street and one back access to the green.
Every unit is designed following sustainable criteria, taking in to consideration life cycles and autonomous systems incorporating the aspect of water, energy, and waste at different scales: the house, the community, the neighbourhood. A climatic skin reinterpreting the traditional ornamental “Jali” (perforated stone or latticed screen) wraps around the living spaces. It is an evolving feature which transforms itself according to the orientation and the privacy requirements for each residential unit. Every unit is unique.