Khosla Associates design a climate-responsive Chennai home around a beloved rain tree

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In the living room, the orange ‘Husk’ chairs are by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia. The ‘Fortuny Moda’ floor lamp is from Pallucco. The painting in the background is by GR Iranna. The old chest beneath the painting is from an antique store in Kochi’s Old town.

Shamanth Patil J

For the four-member family, comprising the couple and their two little girls Anika and Samara, this translated into imagining a space that interacted deeply with nature, and suited their outdoorsy, activity-filled lifestyles. “And we really wanted to retain the old trees on the site; have them be the focal points where possible,” Natasha says. 

When you first hear of it, building a house around a site’s existing trees sounds outlandish—like designing a car around its horn. But Sandeep and Amaresh understood Chennai’s climate, and to them, it made perfect sense. Construction began towards the end of 2014, and today, the home as it stands is a medley of indoor-outdoor spaces spread over 9,350 square feet and two floors. Nature takes precedence here and the trees, as hoped for, are the biggest personalities. One in particular—an aged, multi-trunked rain tree—straddles the compound wall at the entrance, its lush canopy dappling the house with light and shade. 

Khosla Associates design a climateresponsive Chennai home around a beloved rain tree

In the main verandah overlooking the north garden, the tiles on the floor are the same as the ones used on the wall behind the bar. The sofa was custom designed by Khosla Associates and manufactured by Cane Boutique in Bangalore. The cushions are from Nicobar; the tray and jug are from Good Earth; and the large pot is from an antique store in Old Kochi.

Shamanth Patil J