Modern Residence By Ghayyoor Obaid Architects | Islamabad-Pakistan



Location Islamabad
Client Dr.Khusrow Niazi Residence
Style Modern
Project Area 16,000 SFT

Architecture Design Firm

Ghayyoor Obaid Architects


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Scope of work Architecture, Interior design, Landscape design , and Project Management services
Year 2018


This new luxury home designed by Ghayyoor Obaid Architects is a unique project located on Hakeem Lucman Road in G-Sector, Islamabad. This 4 Kanal Plot is situated behind the commercial area there and the site has some, but very limited, views to the Margalla Hills. As the site was not as wide as it was long/deep, there were plenty of opportunities to utilize the front and back of the house (to be built) in an imaginative and in an architecturally poignant manner. The client Dr. Khusrow Niazi, an established doctor in America, commissioned the project and entrusted Ghayyoor Obaid with the management and execution of the work.  One of the very early decisions in the conceptualizing of the house, decided between the architect and the client, was to keep this larger piece of land in tact – as one entity. The normal practice would be to subdivide the property into smaller plots for selling quickly and ‘risk free’. The impact of approaching such sites is evident in the surrounding urban fabric.  Dr. Khusrow however took the initiative and was courageous enough to instead build a house with more exclusivity, a house that is beautifully finished, and that is designed purposefully. In fact, this house was built to be rented out as a modern, luxury house, as opposed to being the personal residence of the client. The house only has a total of 5 bedrooms (considering how large the property is). There are instead a lot of ‘ gathering’ spaces for movement and visual connection between all areas of the house. Credit must be given to the client for making such bold decisions in order for the architect to have enough room to work with and to experiment.

This project is a part of a lineage or ever evolving series of projects that were designed by Ghayyoor Obaid early on in his career. They are till this day refining and morphing themselves in various ways, but the binding concept between these houses is the concept of ‘the inner atrium space’ or ‘the inner-courtyard’.  Traditionally speaking, the courtyard has always held a significant meaning yes, but for the architect, it has been a design element that today still has potential for innovation and for the exploration of impactful spatial expressions. It remains relevant to this day because it gives the residence an inner connectivity, that is, most importantly private. Like the other residences of its type, split levels within the atrium/court create multiple platforms and places for observation. Having these mid levels helps break up the verticality of the inner space, making it more sculptural and creating intimacy appropriate for a residential project. As you enter into the entrance foyer you’re immediately guided into that central and common space. Visually, your connected all the way from the basement, which has a more recreational function; containing a large size media room, lounging spaces, gym, guest bed, and plenty of patio deck spaces with pool etc,. all the way to the roof top ‘Gazebo’.  Contemporary sleek and modern skylights give the person below a cut out view of the sky while the presence of clerestory windows (at the top of the atrium) softly wash the travertine clad volumes and surfaces. This architectural effect accentuates the verticality of the ‘inner court’ like a canyon or crevasse, dramatically bringing in natural light to the core of the house.

Throughout the house, within and outside; a restraint has been shown in the use of materials. A homogeneity exists and a coherence evident from space to space. The treatment of the surfaces, the details, and the transition between them is made to seem effortless and uncomplicated. The lack of too much variation and distracting elements give the house a clean and ethereal feel. The exterior is clad in local, cut to size, travertine stone and the resulting aesthetic has a warm, textural, and almost tactile quality. The pores, natural indentations, and embedded skeletal remains of old specimen visible on the surface of the stone make it mysterious and eye-catching when looked at up-close. Being a coral stone, it encapsulates within it, an ancient geological past which makes it a very beautiful material to the sight and touch. Also at night, when the exterior volumes and shapes are illuminated by lighting, the building glows in a natural hue of color and subtle glow.

The exterior façade of the house is however deliberately understated. Ghayyoor Obaid strongly believes that the experience and functionality of the actual architecture on a human scale, and especially from that ‘real’ perspective, to be much more important than the exterior ‘look’ of the building. Certain segments of the façade (and its openings etc,.) do however tilt slightly, readjusting themselves at an angle to the very limited views available, of the Margalla Hills. This move may seem like a purely form based one, but it is only to let the person inside the house experience the outer environment. This tilt helps to orient the user to his/her larger context and is a deliberate architectural move. There are however many playful ways in which this tilt has further been infused throughout the rest of the house. It doesn’t always have a purely functional role to play as this quirky angle and tilt is found in other building elements such as the interior staircases, bridging, skylights, planters, and other features.

The Rooftop has been fully catered to as well by making it as use-able and accessible as possible. It boasts a lounge facing the front green areas and the hills farther beyond. At this point, you are perched much higher in elevation, so you are granted a much better vantage point. Lift accessibility makes having a rooftop gathering much easier and it is possible to enjoy the cooler days or even nights under the open sky. Other semi-outdoor spaces such as the basement patio/pool area are given careful attention to in terms of detail and functionality. The idea was not to disconnect these outdoor areas from the inside ones and to create maximum privacy and a significant level of protection from mosquitoes, flies, and small rodents found in the environment from entering this private zone. A permeable (jali-dar) wire-mesh skin covers the entire back sunken area, ground floor, and first floor balconies. This membrane, supported by minimal, diagonally placed supporting frames made of mild steel; serves a multi-purpose role. A safe enclosure is created like a nest, while not hindering good ventilation, natural light, privacy, and a view out to the surrounding greenery and trees. The Architect is known for often incorporating these building elements in many of his residential projects and these ‘low-tech’ breathable skins have always been used in more than one way. Because the back area has been semi-enclosed over 3 floors; it essentially becomes one space, and the basement also feels less confined or ‘sunken’. As a consequence, these semi-outdoor areas can be used for almost 7 months of the year; ideal for entertaining and just as ideal for quiet reflection. Beautiful fifty year old silver oak trees situated on site were preserved as they were considered as heritage to the site and indispensable to their immediate environment by the client and the architect. Despite there being a challenge to incorporate all the various outdoor spaces, sunken areas of the pool, and other hard and soft landscape features, It was not something everyone involved was willing to compromise on. After all, it is the older, more established trees that serve a pertinent and vital role in any eco-system and the architecture should, if possible, always cater to the environment.



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