This special series invites you into homes of interesting people in interesting places. Read the other stories here.
Pottering around the garden, siestas in a hammock on winter afternoons, setting up tents with the kids, sitting around a campfire, and even the occasional weekday escape from the city—it’s hard to imagine this kind of lifestyle just 40-minutes away from the heart of a busy urban sprawl, but for Anar Patel and her family, this is exactly how weekends go, starting Friday when they drive out of Ahmedabad where they live and work.
How they got to Aranya Farms
The family comprises of six people: Anar and her husband Siddharth Patel, their two sons aged eight and 13, and the kids’ grandparents. Anar and Siddharth are both in the textile line and nature is their escape from the busyness of it. “We have always been in love with nature, and wanted a gadget-free place away from the city,” says Anar, of her family’s decision to build a home on a plot in the Aranya Farms area. ‘Aranya’ is originally a Sanskrit word that translates into ‘forest’, or ‘wilderness’, and while not quite that, the family’s 36,000-square-foot plot was home to a number of neem, chikoo and amla trees, around which the house has literally come up.
Designing the house
To build their holiday home, the family enlisted the services of architect Arpan Shah of Modo Designs. Arpan’s work embodies design that is both responsive to its environment, as well as deeply reflective of its users’ requirements, and he understood the Patels’ need for a home that was as different from what they had in the city as possible—open to nature, with enough room for outdoor activities. He also noted their desire to leave the trees on the site unharmed and one of his first acts was to document them all. Then came the plan.
The Patels’ desire for openness led to a plan that had two large volumes, separated and linked by a long courtyard, at one end of which, an amla tree stood. “The random locations of the existing trees defined the extent of the house,” Arpan explains. The entrance to the house is framed by the site’s original chikoo trees, and leads to the first volume which contains the guest bedroom. Through the courtyard lies the second volume which is the highlight of the house—a glass-panelled living room, dining room and kitchen that lead into each other while also creating a fluid connection with the outdoors. It’s like a greenhouse, a gazebo and a loggia all rolled into one quiet, Zen space. “I feel such a calming and positive vibe here that going back on Monday is really difficult!” Anar says, laughing. The interiors, designed by Ahmedabad-based studio PVDRS, are minimalist, but with an Indian touch.
The family uses different areas of the home throughout the day. Mornings typically begin with the boys waking up early and going on a nature walk of sorts (peacock feathers and organic spinach are the usual bounty). This is followed by breakfast, coffee in the living room, and if the boys are feeling particularly enthusiastic, pizza for lunch. “We enjoy pizzas from scratch there—the kids roll out the dough and make them for all of us,” Anar says happily.
Is Ahmedabad for you?
Ahmedabad is rich in history, both ancient and modern, making it a treat for history hunters. It is, of course, home to the Sabarmati Ashram, from where Mahatma Gandhi began the Dandi march. In addition, Old Ahmedabad, which was founded by Ahmad Shah I in the 15th century, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2017, and Lothal—one of the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization—lies about 80km southwest of Ahmedabad.