Cantilever House is the name selected by Indian architecture firm Zero Energy Design Laboratory, or ‘ZED Lab’ for short, for its most recent project. The house is spread over two floors and features cantilevered beams which, playing with the home’s full and empty spaces on different levels, lend the exterior a marked sense of dynamism. ZED Lab’s new construction is located north-east of Delhi, in the Raj Nagar neighbourhood of the district of Ghaziabad..
As per the wishes of both the architects and the client, the house is inspired by the traditional architecture of the region, but its stylistic expression comes through a contemporary filter in which the skilful use of many and varied materials makes for carefully crafted tableaux that are complex yet orderly. ZED Lab has worked following a unified logic that could be described as bold, to say the least. Indeed, it is no mean feat to successfully create a considerable sense of balance by combining a myriad of different elements, shapes and materials in what one could call - at the risk of being oxymoronic - a “minimalistic maximalism” with an exotic twist.
The structure of Cantilever House is made entirely out of steel profiles. According to the architects of ZED Lab, this was the main challenge that they faced: “[The primary challenge] was to design the frame with judicious use of steel for economic viability, given that the cantilevers form a dominant part of the design scheme and a typical one demands adequate steel reinforcement to generate structural integrity”.
The home perfectly reflects the clients’ love of the great outdoors, with a sizeable garden adorned with flowerbeds, paths, bushes and a lounge area made of stone. Furthermore, the shape of the villa itself - thanks to its cantilevered beams - has allowed the architects to incorporate several loggias and terraces from which the clients can enjoy the temperate climate of northern India.
What stands out about Zero Energy Design Lab’s creations, as suggested by the name, is their energy and environmental sustainability. Cantilever House is no exception: the building implements a series of mechanisms and technologies to reduce its energy footprint and environmental impact, with a total of 725 square metres of usable floor space. For example, the double-height lobby is flanked by the summer courtyard to the north and the winter courtyard to the south, thus allowing for horizontal and vertical cross ventilation throughout the year. The bedroom areas on the upper floor have a high thermal mass, meaning that they protect the living area on the ground floor from the heat of the sun from the south and west. The all-glass north façade of the house allows indirect daylight to enter, diffusing it and thus preventing excessive heat and glare. An interstitial space between the outdoor space and the shell of the building ensures a cool microclimate, thanks to the magnificent double-height living room surrounded by a north-facing water canal, which acts as a heatsink. Meanwhile, the plants and vertical garden inside the home itself contribute to its thermal inertia whilst also purifying the air and trapping dust and pollutants. The gardens and the water canal together serve as rainwater collection wells; this water can then be heated thanks to evacuated solar tube systems installed on the roof.
Despite its luxurious appearance and size, Cantilever House is actually a call for responsible living, according to the architects of Zero Design Energy Lab: “The house borrows from the Indian vernacular and its traditional architectural elements and is informed by a deep and innate understanding and application of age-old bioclimatic wisdom reinterpreting them to become an energy-efficient and sustainable family home”.
Name of Project: Cantilever House (Raj Nagar Residence)
Location: Raj Nagar, Ghaziabad, India
Studio: Zero Energy Design Lab https://www.zeroenergydesignlab.com/
Principal Architects: Sachin and Payal Rastogi
Team: Rohan Mishra, Naveen Pahal, Sakshi Jain
Site Area: 830 sq. m
Built-Up Area: 725 sq. m
Completion Date: April 2020
Photographer: Noughts and Crosses | Andre J. Fanthome