Redefining Tradition | Modern Residence| By MSA-Metropolitan Studio Of Architecture | Islamabad ,Pakistan

Project Modern Residence
Location Islamabad ,Pakistan
Building Type SeMi Detached House
Competition YEAR 2011
Plot Area 3567 sq ft
Covered Area 6500 sq ft
Design Team Syed Fawad Hussain ,Leena Hassan
Client Mr Kashif Zia


This residence breaks from the constraints of traditional residential design in Pakistan yet remains quintessentially traditional .

Located on a relatively small semi detached lot the house had to serve the vast entertaining activities of the male members of the family at the same time as providing seclusion to the female members that observe Purdah in this traditional Pushtun household.

MSA came up with an amazing solution rather than constructing a traditional divided house, The house has been divided into two separate portions; the basement with a separate entrance from the western setback (side street) of the houses, contains a recreational room with a home theatre system, along with a billiard room, a kitchenette and two bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms, while the ground and first floor houses the living and dining rooms, the kitchen, a compact lounge and five further bedrooms with attached baths. Whereas the basement takes on the form of the traditional Hujra, (it is a traditional social/meeting space separate from the main house) or male domain of the house used for entertaining and housing male guests, the ground and first floor take on the role of the separated family domain of the house where the female members can move with ease.  This care to maintain privacy extends even to the terrace at the front of the house, where the use of front mass of concrete that defines openings, allow both privacy and openness to the terrace at the same time.

Though it has lot of traditional elements ,  the house is truly a modern design reflecting the needs of the time. Forming a near uniform cuboid form, the house is punctured by numerous windows, openings, and recesses, creating a truly modern silhouette.

One corner of this solid form is overtaken by a staircase that juts out of the building enclosed in glass blocks. The side of the house attached to the adjacent house has an atrium that brings light deep down into the structure and, along with the glass walls of the stairs and the wide windows, fills the house with daylight throughout the day.

The house itself is clad in concrete panels in stark contrast to the houses surrounding it. Rather than providing solidity and heaviness the cladding breaks the monotony of the structure by providing a pattern all along the façade that succeeds in giving the structure a lightweight feel. This pattern of grey concrete is further punctuated by contrasting black concrete tiles of a different texture that are artfully placed along the façade, highlighting its form. This unique concrete facade differentiates this design from most other residential designs in the country that still indulge in traditional brick and whitewashed facades.

The attention to details that pervades throughout the house is absolutely amazing  . With a deep commitment to quality design the architects have extended their energies to every corner of the house: from the glass blocks that retain the notion of Purdah whilst allowing daylight to enter the stairwell and become a light box at night, to the black marble that clads the stairs in stark contrast; from the wide, wall to wall windows in the bedroom that open views towards the Margalla hills, to the recessed windows that allow a self-made view along the façade facing the adjacent house; from the stony concrete clad façade to the lightweight, yellow steel canopy of the driveway that forms a fitting counterpoint; from the steel light fixtures designed specifically for the house by the architects to the choice furnishings of their selection that dot the house. This is the only color added to the façade of the house complementing the shades of grays. It is this attention to detail that truly makes the house stand out as a piece of exceptional design that fits all client requirements yet cuts back on neither creativity nor aesthetics.

The High Street Residence is full of contrasts; at once both traditional and modern, floating and concrete, private and inviting, open and enclosed. It is all these contrasting elements that make this house both surprising and paradoxical. At the same time however it is this very conflict of ideas that allows the house to be such a success both as a comfortable residence and as a means by which the architects have expressed their personal aesthetic expression. Likened by some to an office building due to its form and unique use of materials and finishes, the house redefines the notion of residential design in Pakistan. It is truly the apt modern home for the traditional Pakistani family, which allows the residents to both retain their cultural roots at the same time to assert their individuality.

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