faceboo The Transparent Box: Transforming a 70-Year-Old Colonial Home with Glass | Saint Gobain

The Transparent Box: Transforming a 70-Year-Old Colonial Home with Glass

November 07, 2023
Last updated on April 23, 2024

The transparent box is the story of a 70-year-old colonial home that has been reimagined to become a contemporary space of living. It narrates the transformation of disconnected, poorly lit spaces into a light-filled energized habitat, by taking out unnecessary inserts and revealing the beauty of the original volumes.


The Transparent Box (Source: Saka Studio)

The home is redesigned by a boutique design practice based in Gurgaon. Studio S.A.K.A. was established by Swanzal Kak Kapoor and Atal Kapoor, in 1999, with the ambition of creating mindful and passionate designs. The transparent box is one such manifestation of their creativity reflected in a built form. The site of the house is located on a one-acre land at Civil Lines in Delhi. The house contained imprints of the home passed down through generations, along with four cluttered rooms for a family of three to live in.


Living area and renovated spaces (Source: Saka Studio)

The old home surprised the architects with the potential spaces that were overshadowed by the walls built around them. It had many possibilities to open out with its double-height ceilings, a frontage oriented towards the north, and a magnificent garden.

A major goal for the renovation was to let in as much natural light as possible. In response to the central idea of bringing light inside, the envelope of glass served as the "skin" that embraces the spaces from all sides. Glass as an element weaves its story around three main concerns: framing views, visually connecting the house with the outdoors, and uniting it as a whole.


Glass Skin surrounding the space (Source: Saka Studio)

The toughened glass skin of the renovated spaces revealed two sides of the home towards the exteriors - one is the driveway, and the other is the garden. The greens visually enter the home, transforming the quality of the interiors. By borrowing views as well as reflections inside, this creates a sense of living with nature. The external living space is completed by a reflecting pool, water cascade, pergola, and stone wall in the background.

The double-height space is divided into two, creating a mezzanine space. By using the raw double-height essence of the old house, these spaces have been converted into a cosy contemporary home. The existing ceiling coverings were removed to reveal the double heights and the old, arched, vaulted ceiling.


Workspace-Mezzanine (Source: Saka Studio)

A linear glass box cantilevering into the garden transforms the interior spaces to welcome the greens. Through the work from home zone, one can see the blue and green canvas of the outdoors beyond.


Garden and Built relationship (Source: Saka Studio)

Throughout the house, glass complements the design of the spaces by setting up dialogues between them. A juxtaposition of glass layers with the existing structure and elements, and outdoor vegetation transforms the composition into a harmonious one.

The service areas are as interestingly planned as the other living areas. The master bathroom in the house gets the advantage of being located adjoining the garden. One can look into the garden from the large glass window facing the wash basin.

There is also a narrow-slit window in the WC area that allows diffused light into the bathroom. With light coming from two sides, the bathroom imbibes the idea of the openness. With a splash of colour, the second bathroom adds a fresh touch to the otherwise muted palette. A unique arrangement with a floating mirror adjoining the shower cubicle helps tackle the tight space.


Interior view of washrooms (Source: Saka Studio)

As a space, this home has witnessed and transcended time. It houses deep, meaningful stories of its inhabitants. Reflecting its layers of past, present, and future, it lives up to its name as a transparent box! With exquisitely less, it says a lot more to create a memorable, healing, and nurturing abode.

Authored by

Radhika is a storyteller first and an architect second. She believes that architecture is a powerful tool to address society. It is one of the easiest forms of art which is directly used and understood by every person, since ages. She is a writing enthusiast, who loves to capture the world and her ideas with pen, paper and lens.




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