Mumbai, India

Record Houses 2008

Glenburn House H16 Maltman Bungalows Palmyra House The Rolling Huts Wall House Dairy House Nora House VH r-10 gHouse

It is said that the Palmyra tree can be used in 800 different ways. Its leaves make fine hats, thatching, umbrellas, mats, and baskets; its fruits and their sap, popularly called toddy, are a local delicacy. Architect Bijoy Jain, however, is perhaps the only person who has named a house after it. He designed the Palmyra House with signature louvers made from the tree’s cut, dried, and locally harvested wood, setting a course of using sustainable, regional materials to guide the project.

Located in the Alibaug area of India where this hardy species grows in abundance, the house evokes an amalgam of vernacular architecture and contemporary design. Jain relied on his intuition to guide his process. “There is a constant struggle to understand the sense of that intuition and finding a method within myself to be as honest to it as possible. In this case, it was about a light, air-filled volume,” he says.

In the end, the architect built not just one volume, but two louvered wooden boxes in a functioning coconut plantation in Nandgaon, a quiet, sun-drenched land of palm trees where time seems to stand still and the natives go about their daily chores as they did ages ago. However, given that India’s restless financial capital, Mumbai, sits just an hour across nearby Mandwa Bay, the area has long been favored by wealthy Mumbaikars seeking weekend homes and a place to relax. Not surprisingly, the region is dotted with exciting new architecture commissioned by some of India’s richest clients. Palmyra House serves as a vacation home for a Mumbai-based entrepreneur and his family.

Accessed by foot, roughly 165 feet from the road, the house’s two rectangles encompass 3,000 square feet and are anchored to a stone plinth. A 25-foot-wide open court separates the buildings, with a pool that alludes to the plantation’s 80-year-old system of stone aqueducts. The house offers dramatic views of the Indian Ocean and was situated to disturb as little as possible the densely planted palms on the 1-acre plot.



Studio Mumbai Architects
556 N.M. Joshi Marg
Byculla West
Mumbai 400 011
Tel: +91 22 65 777 560
Fax: +91 22 23 012 973

Principal Architect:

Bijoy Jain

Project Team: 

Jeevaram Suthar, Mangesh Mhatre, Roy Katz, Samuel Barclay, Faheem Khan, Mohammed Nizam, Punaram Suthar, Jean Marc Moreno

Interior designer: 

Studio Mumbai Architects



Studio Mumbai Architects


Studio Mumbai Architects

General contractor:

Studio Mumbai Architects


Samuel Barclay
Tanya Fleisher
Geoffrey Johnston
Ben Lepley
Roy Katz
Prabuddha Das Gupta

CAD system, project management, or other software used:

AutoCAD 2006 






Jean Marc Moreno