Interactive floor plan: Tea Garden House, Coonoor

Interactive floor plan: Tea Garden House, Coonoor
(Image credit: press)

Offsetting the surrounding rolling hills of Nilgiri in south India, as well as its highly contoured and organic site, this house, located near the small town of Coonoor, was conceived as a simple contemporary pavilion.

Designed by RMA Architects - based in Mumbai and New York, and headed by Rahul Mehrotra - the structure was created in response to a request for the existing operational tea garden to remain untouched. Respecting the client's decision, the architects worked on a modern, linear structure that sits right at the edge of the plantation, making the most of the garden's views.

The architects' design suggested a 'large roof under which would sit different rooms organised as independent cabins' and the roof certainly dominates the final structure. Finished in stainless steel panels, the its surface is an eye-catching feature in itself, but the roof also acts as a blurring of boundaries between inside and out, bringing glimpses of the surrounding nature into the interior through its reflections.

Internally, wood serves as a unifying element to the design. The teak wood used is complimented by the finished concrete of the main circulation spine that connects the house's rooms; several bedrooms, including a guest suite, lounge, living and dining areas, as well as kitchen and service rooms.

Contextually comfortable, yet distinctly modern, the house overlooks the tea garden remaining in dialogue with its surroundings. 'It is refined and complete, yet with potential for dynamic change through seasons, time, and visual extensions of space,' say the architects.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).