ALIBAG – Mumbai-based design firm Note have completed a lush, three-house villa in the nearby elite coastal hideout of Alibag. Taking the Shinto symbol of unity between heaven, earth, and humanity as its eponymous inspiration, Tomoe offers a terrestrial paradise to its guests informed just as much by local and international iconography.
The concept begins with the traditional Indian courtyard house – ‘represent[ing] our firm’s commitment to context’, according to design directors Smita Khanna and Hemant Purohits. A smooth, white volume is sculpted into an ascending spiral – after the tomoe symbol – forming an inner court while opening the structure on one end to the landscape. The incline between plinth and first floor echoes the shape of the court in its constitutive triangular planes while providing a lighter, more nimble upward motion than that of a simple rectangular cross section. Modular square windows rotated 45 degrees from the main frame line the exterior of the spiral, narrating unique haikus of scale and continuing the spiral motif.
Moving through the spiral that defines the house’s singular path around the courtyard, one never feels completely indoors. Folding glass doors comprise nearly the entire inner wall of the ground-floor living area, which leads up to an outdoor mezzanine, then a first-floor loggia with adjacent private spaces, and finally a terrace directly above where one started. Service and utilities have been relegated just out of sight to a floor beneath the mezzanine, clearing and simplifying the common areas above.