×
×
People

Vastu Shastra

A matter of principle

The principles of Vastu Shastra, the Hindu tradition of architecture, are being used to inform the design of new homes in India. Chris Godfrey of global architecture practice Hirsch Bedner explains the project to Well Home

Published in Well Home 2018 issue 1: Read on turning pages | Download PDF | Sign up to Well Home

What are the principles of Vastu?
Houses are organised around the cardinal compass points. As far as is practicable, spaces are then positioned according to their preferred location, for example, ‘water’ is located in the south-west corner; ‘fire’ in the northeast and ‘light/air’ at the centre of it all.

As well as defining order and the flow of function, articulation of space and sunlight, Vastu is also deployed as a generator for materials and colour through the design; with colour being used to reflect and promote the spiritual 'elements’.

The relationship of the different functions of each facet – variously framing or enclosing stairs, for example, or galleries, voids and private rooms – are brought together into a holistic installation.

What are the fundamentals?
In Vastu the centre of the spiritual body is the centre of the house – the Brahmastan.

We use the Brahmasthan to link and divide all the various elements of the house – the shared and private zones and the territories of the various generations of family members – and to bring light and air into the heart of the home.

What varies?
Central to one of our clients is their art collection; the Brahmasthan in their multi-level home acts as a gallery, where large-scale, playful artworks inhabit the various spaces.
Our interpretations of Vastu are carried through from the first principles of organisation to the small details. We’ve also developed bespoke patterns based on the client’s desire to incorporate natural elements which are central to Hindu culture, such as the Tree of Life, banyan tree, peepal tree, mango tree, marigold, lotus, and frangipani

Who decided to build the Mumbai house on Vastu principles?
The family is of Hindu tradition, so the application of Vastu was a fundamental request of theirs; although, as is largely the case, the application is to be considered as a ‘guidance’ and should be moderated with other practical briefing requirements and constraints.

Which elements bring the home in line with Vastu principles?
Vastu principles are models for the organisation of form and space, sacred geometry, symmetry and directional alignments. They also integrate architecture, nature and the five elements: earth, wind, fire, water and air/light with the body.

Architecturally, we always consider the form, how space and light can instil personal security and wellbeing, regardless of function and changes in aesthetic.

Do you include any other wellness elements?
When it comes to the provision of facilities, ours is a spiritual and holistic approach and this takes priority over the developments of things like pools, spas and gyms.

We believe that correctly proportioned and naturally lit spaces can, in themselves, promote wellbeing and that the spiritual dimensions are also very powerful.

Is your choice of materials dictated by Vastu?
Colour and material languages in the home have been subtly developed in line with the Vastu directional chakara.

Brown is a must-have colour in the master bedroom, as it represents comfort and stability, for example, while green is an auspicious colour for the study room.

Do you see a trend in India towards adopting Vastu principles?
In addition to the house in Mumbai, we’re also designing a further two residences in India that subscribe to the tenets of Vastu, and have designed several others over the past decade.
However, Vastu is far from a trend – the opposite in fact. It can be dated back to at least the 6th century and is deeply rooted in the physical and spiritual fabric of Hindu society, where temples, gardens, houses, villages and towns have been laid out in accordance with the principles.

How did you work with the client on these projects?
The homeowner is highly interested and involved, which means the style of the home is being designed to respond not only to the site’s conditions and heritage but also to his and three generations’ personalities and preferences.

In this home, all aspects of the lives of the family, including religion, culture and art, have been carefully considered and distilled into something which is distinct yet also harmonised.

This home will be an important family heirloom, a place that needs to accommodate large functions and also be a private, secure residence to be enjoyed by all the generations.

It’s a truly personal response that fits with the physicality and cityscape of Mumbai while being attuned to the mosaic of religion and family.

When will the building be completed?
It’s currently on site and is scheduled for completion in summer 2019.

About HBA Residential

HBA Residential is an independent division of Hirsch Bedner Associates, which specialises in architecture, interior design and FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) for luxury private villas, penthouses and homes.

Gallery
More people
We love being surrounded by people who teach us and make us better. Serenbe has also really enhanced our thinking about the value of nature and being outside on a daily basis
We catch up with Eliza Bacot, nutritionist, wellness coach and founder of The Organic South, who lives at Serenbe with her husband Benton and their two children, William and Emmeline
Hyatt Hotels Corporation has committed to developing wellbeing initiatives for both guests and the people it employs. Its global head of wellbeing explains why Well Home matters
Mental health issues can affect anyone and the mental wellbeing implications of design were mostly being ignored within architecture, says Ben Channon
Architect Robert Henry has created a healthy home to support the wellness of the Kutsak family in Rumson New Jersey. He talks us through the project
The creator of the Green Village in Bali and his daughter tell Magali Robathan how their bamboo, nature-inspired homes are changing the way we view the places we live
Food writer, blogger and vegan restaurant entrepreneur Ella Mills – better known as Deliciously Ella – has earned a world-class reputation for her plant-based cooking. As her latest cookery book is published, she shares some of her new recipes with Well Home
Architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith has designed the kitchen of the future, by prioritising the health of herself and her family
As a leading figure in the green building movement, Jason McLennan was determined to create the most sustainable home possible. He tells Tom Walker about the unexpected wellness benefits of his nature-inspired home
The community of Serenbe, just outside Atlanta, is home to around 700 people who have chosen to put wellbeing at the centre of their lives. Jane Kitchen visits to find out more
Combining Chinese and Western approaches to wellbeing, Octave Living aims to support a healthier, saner lifestyle, and balance profit with giving back. Christopher DeWolf finds out about the team behind the brand
Most people scour real estate websites in search of the perfect property, but Jennifer Beningfield has designed and built her own piece of paradise. She talks to Well Home editor, Liz Terry
Sign up for the free digital edition of Well Home magazine or request free print copies for your resort or spa