Curtain Door, House with Wall of Light

After a hectic day in one of the fastest growing industrial cities in

India, Surat, the Sanghvi’s come home to the daylightdrenched textured concrete shell which promises to shield them from the squalor around. Hidden within is an intimate house with a backlit smooth wall in onyx, cool sandstone floors, lush lawns, as if greeting them and pleasantly surprising their guests. Acting as a “curtain raiser” to this everyday event is a wooden monolithic door that gently ushers the family home.

The high 17‘x 5’6” opening formed by the composition of bland walls and slab treated as material planes required a control solution which would not break the opening plane into distinct fixed and openable parts and yet make the opening appropriate for human scale and easy to use. The large size, thickness and cautious approach about the working made us think of a solution inspired from the “drawing of a curtain”, which is associated with homecoming; akin to a soft curtain.

To allow this custom-designed and locally-fabricated door to come to life, it is fragmented into 40 nos. of 10” thick Burma teak members, carved to integrate 160 pulleys, 80 ball bearings, a wire-rope and a counter weight installed within the hollow pipe acting as pivot, the symphony of all these parts working in unison transforms the flat plane into a sinusoidal curve with one effortless push. The blessing in disguise is the fixed top panel which houses the mechanism and the lid for the rest of the logs, concealed such that its workings ever remain “behind the curtain”

The member which goes the farthest and gives the curtain its definitive shape is the one fashioned from a single piece of wood; maintaining the language and eliminating the need of auxiliary metal handles. Another log of wood takes the lock within itself.

The façade of the house seems to become the end of the raucous city and the door gives way to an intimidating in size yet intimate threshold embracing the inhabitants in a warm welcome.

Even as the door draws an “iron curtain” to its integral character, it becomes an artist in the drama of the experience which unfolds.

Architects: Matharoo Associates