Agra House: Archohm’s Bold Design Language

A designer residence must to give the high profile residential neighbourhood of Agra a distinct skyline and vocabulary. The bold facade of a wooden square of thirty feet gives the house a clean and contemporary look. An introverted layout with a central courtyard lends controlled light and view to this private residence. An outer blank shell of wood and inner perforated skin of white and glass complement each other.

The house is a complex composition of spaces that flow into each other. A play of views is developed through fenestrations placed strategically as north lights, top lights and structural glazing.

The route is designed as a story that unfolds dramatically. Ramping up and along the blank facade to a sixteen foot high door, then through a top lit long and narrow passage, one arrives into the double height entrance foyer with a floating glass bridge. Moving ahead, one comes to the family living and dining spaces that open onto a lush green courtyard. Formal entertainment spaces on one side and private sleeping zone on the other define and shade the courtyard.

A top level for domestic help and a basement for cars and services make the facility vertically compact. The independent servant and service facility and routing has been developed so as to keep the house insulated from any unnecessary traffic and view.

The house is punctuated with Italian designer furniture and lighting, American security and lighting systems,german doors, windows and kitchenettes and state of the art equipment to keep the house technically sound and functionally efficient.

An independent 25-foot tall and quiet meditation room, private master suites with independent terraces, large flexible multipurpose spaces and an incredible play of light and height (read shade and volume) to punctuate this villa for spatial richness.

Box Story

Factfile: Archohm

Archohm, India’s premium urban designers, offer architectural and engineering services for a full spectrum covering residential, commercial, corporate, industrial, urban and infrastructural setups. Archohm has carved a niche in the field of urban design with it’s “out of the box creativity” and making optimum utilization of space and resources. The biggest highs that keep Archohm focused are innovation and fresh design which inspires them to grow and meet new urban challenges.

Archohm has successfully completed design projects at various levels and scales, reflect the scope of work produced by the company like in urban design – Delhi Gurgaon urban detail, Delhi ring road; township – Kufra Housing (Libya), Triveni Towers (Faridabad); toll plaza - Delhi-Noida toll bridge, IGI toll plaza (New Delhi); commercial – "Haat Beat" Dilli haat (Janakpuri), J.D. High street mall (Ranchi); retail – Ebony Gautier (Noida), Anmol Jewellery Line; institutional – D.Y. Patil College of Engineering (Pune), Taurian World school (Ranchi); hospitality – Sheringtons (London), Shangri – La (China) and residential – Agra House, Peshawari House (Noida) and many more projects.

Since its conception as a firm, Archohm’s strength has been its design philosophy that propagates innovation and experimentation. Archohm facilitates a set up for complete design services, from conceptual design to detailed engineering, with the required technical backup and field engineers. The idea has always been to emphasize upon the process of creation and the research and development of design such that it offers solution at every level.

World-Class Senior Lifestyle – Now In India

"Vivara Residences", a nationwide chain of world-class residential communities for senior citizens, comes to India.

India may be a country full of young people but it has its share of senior citizens too. Having raised their families, worked hard all their lives, they are now ready to settle down and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Enter ‘Vivara Residences’, the latest entrant in the senior citizens housing category. Unlike the many ‘retirement projects’ launched before, Vivara promises a world-class living experience for which it has tied up with international retirement associations. Sensing the need for senior community living that offers world-class facilities, an atmosphere of fun and revelry, and the company of peers who share similar tastes, is what made the Acron Group consider setting up Vivara Residences around the country.With the first set of Vivara homes ready to roll out in October 2010, in the tranquil vistas of north Goa, the company is all set to revolutionise senior- living in India.

According to Dr. John Britto, one of the directors of the Acron Group, “at Vivara Residences, care has been taken to ensure people who come to live here can enjoy a worry-free life. We’ve gone one step further and incorporated this philosophy even into the buying process. Something that has always proved a hurdle for senior citizens. Vivara operates on a leasehold model and not Freehold. So you pay only a deposit and a lease you’re comfortable with, we take care of the rest. It has therefore considerably reduced the stress of buying and selling property at that stage in one’s life.”

Thoughtful features like these that will make living here a pleasure is what the management of Vivara likes to call ‘Unretirement’. Mr. Amar, another director on the board of the Acron group, describes it best when he says: “ Unretirement is pure unadulterated pleasure that you get our of life, when you know that everything has been taken care of for you. From security to maintenance to emergency health care. That’s the kind of life we’re promising at Vivara Residences.”
The name ‘Vivara’ signifies “blessed with life”, a combination of the words ‘viva’ for “long live” and the Sanskrit word ‘vara’ meaning a boon or fulfilment of a wish. Soon Vivara apartments and villas with age-friendly services and facilities will be fulfilling the wishes of senior citizens at various scenic locations. In the pipeline are projects at Coorg, Kerala, Pondicherry, Shirdi, Rishikesh, Brindavan and the outskirts of major cities. Acron Senior Living is a part of the diversified Acron group with a strong record in property development, hospitality, infrastructure projects and retail.

In most so-called “retirement” developments in India, homes are sold on an ownership basis and the developer is neither involved in the day-to-day operations nor concerned with the future of the residents in the complex. Another disadvantage for seniors with such freehold, open market sales is that in subsequent transactions, the homes could pass on to unsuitable buyers who do not qualify in terms of the age and lifestyle profile of existing residents. However, the leaseholds in Vivara ensure that the unique, age-appropriate characteristics of the properties are preserved and their privacy and tranquility are protected over the long term.
Moreover, Acron’s continued management and ownership of Vivara helps maintain the quality of the product and service in each community. This enhances asset values for the residents and thereby increases demand from prospective senior-citizen lessees on an ongoing basis. Residents can choose from the range of attractive pricing plans including some that earn a profit on the lease deposit. The best part is that in all options, residents get their entire deposit back when they terminate their lease. Senior-living developments are much more than just real estate projects, they are all about the people who will live in them. Vivara represents a paradigm shift from the ‘retirement’ developments currently on offer in the country.

Vivara is a value-enhancing revolution in specialized housing for older people. The fully furnished, ready-to-move-in homes, in a lively resort setting, are designed to a high standard with eco-friendly features, first class physical amenities and senior-friendly services. Vivara facilitates an “ageing in place” continuum of assisted living and aged care support for residents at advanced ages, helping them live healthily with comfort and dignity.Vivara is backed by Acron’s impeccable track-record of quality design and enduring construction values. We create an enriched living experience for the residents. Acron developments are thoughtfully designed, located in tranquil surroundings yet close to all the action and with an upscale ambience that complements Acron clients’ international lifestyles.
For over two decades, Acron have been building apartment and villa complexes for lease or sale to discerning customers, many of whom are older homebuyers from various parts of India and NRIs and PIOs from the United Kingdom, the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, South America and Europe. The group creates residences that feel like home the moment you walk in the door. Vivara is owned and managed by Acron, so residents benefit from the commitment to quality, service and customer focus. The trained and motivated management and staff are guided by a resident-centric philosophy at Vivara. q

Begin A Second Life In A Second Home

Indian real estate is a world of possibilities. The pace at which it has changed over the years is testimony to its unparalleled capacity to meet the demands of property investors. Second homes combine luxury, comfort and leisure. Purnesh Bhattacharya reports.

The roof is a blue sky; the neighborhood is a green forest, the garden is a mini world of flora and fauna, the music is chirping of birds, the calm is flowing rivers and the picturesque landscape are serene hilltops. If that rings a bell in your mind, it definitely presents a picture of how modern India is dreaming and imagining its dream home. These are no ordinary homes. They are simple but distinguished by luxury. They reflect individuality and connect with aspirations.
The concept of owning a second home is not very new to India. Earlier such homes were considered the prerogative of the rich and famous. Mostly they were farmhouses where only weekends were spent in company of family and friends. In recent years, the concept has gone through a transformation. Earlier considered a priced asset of a few is now accessible to the middle-class. Real estate marketing companies have played a major role in this transition. Combining the best of what was available in farmhouses, plots and bungalows, most marketing groups developed the idea of presenting a packaged deal to the home buyer.
The changing preferences of buyers provided a much needed impetus to this emerging wave of second homes. Today nearly 60% of India is experiencing immense growth in this segment. Some completely unexplored locations are being considered ideal second home destinations. This presents a unique possibility that if a home cannot be afforded within city limits, there is merit in investing in a second home away from the city. People who have already taken this decision are rejoicing.
The past seven years have been very dynamic for the second homes segment. Investors are believed to fall in the age group of 40-45 years. Second homes have also paved a new investment route that involves lower risks and higher returns. Research shows, the accelerating pace in development of second home projects have contributed towards appreciation of land value. The most startling example of this can be found in destinations closer to Mumbai. Wada was once considered a haven of industrial names but is now a sought-after destination to begin a new lifestyle. Murbad was completely unheard of till some developers acquired extensive acres of land to create homes with a feel of an urban lifestyle. Shahpur was only a technical halt for state-run buses plying between Mumbai and Nashik but now is the core of an emerging upper-class home segment. Kasara was known to be a customary halt taken by travellers driving to Nashik but is now an ideal location to live the life one always dreamt of.
Renowned developers share the common view that second homes are no more a cash-rich affair. The pricing of some projects have been kept realistic so that the middle-income group too looks forward to owning a second home. This certainly is happening. People who have lived their entire life in city limits have shed their apprehensions of settling down in a new destination.
Prices of second homes usually range from a minimum of Rs. 10 lakh to a maximum of Rs. 2 crore. But that hasn�t affected the rising demands. Developers are striving to cater to this rising demand by imaginatively designed projects of second homes.

Premium Homes
Property experts say that the perception of second homes changes from person to person. In terms of a physical product, it can mean a premium bungalow with a large open plot in an exclusive location for those who cherish the best that life can offer. It can also be an apartment in a holiday destination, a simple home for those who do not have a very lavish budget. And then it might also be something that merges the two.
The liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s brought in a new phase of growth in the real estate industry. Economic growth contributed towards an increase in the standard of living. Consequently banks also started providing home loan solutions.
The recent upsurge in the second homes segment cannot be attributed to just one factor. There are various reasons associated with it. Second homes are usually in locations with picturesque topography and serenity. Another interesting aspect about second homes is the levels of maintenance. Housekeeping personnel are assigned the task of maintaining complete hygiene throughout the project. The architecture of second homes is also given keen attention. They are designed exclusively to make dwellers feel special and are laid out imaginatively to ensure optimum utilization of space.
Apart from every other factor, what second homes really encapsulate are the prospects available of earning returns. The owner�s capital value keeps growing. If an investor plans to rent out the property, it serves the dual purpose of earning income and growth in capital value.
The uniqueness of second homes also revolves around the unusual themes developers adapt to develop a project. From international themes to very Indian themes with rural backgrounds, the basic element is that of comfort. Developers understand that second homes being away from city limits, infrastructure has to be excellent.

Marketing Transparency
Second homes also enjoy the maximum advantage of reliability. Real estate marketing organizations ensure that higher levels of transparency are maintained in property deals. The documentation process too has been simplified and a clear picture of all transactions are made available to consumers in a printed format. Investors are presented with a wide range of property options to choose from.
Developers too are not confining themselves to certain boundaries. If western India-based developers are penetrating the north Indian real estate segment, the eastern groups are stepping into southern terrains. Encouraging healthy competition, every developer has developed remarkable USPs for the projects they build. Some have emerged pioneers. Similarly, others are enjoying maximum attention for being well organized.
The emerging status of second homes has also registered maximum interest from NRI buyers. After having stayed away from their motherland for a long time, the eagerness to return home is intense. Accustomed to a very organized pattern of lifestyle, they expect similar services to be extended to them in India by realty developers.
Decisions of investing in second homes are driven by destinations too. In the past few years, it has been noticed that Shimla occupies the top spot in an investor�s mind. Apart from being a four seasons spot, it offers endless avenues of holidaying. Dotted with traditional Buddhist monasteries and with picturesque beauty, Shimla is a coveted destination. Second on the list is Kerala. God�s own country boasts a tropical climate and stretches of land are lined with coconut palms. In the neighborhood are renowned wildlife sanctuaries and tea plantations that date back to the colonial era. Complementing the nature-rich ambience of Kerala are the world-famous backwaters. Some might consider these two destinations as two extremes. But at the end of a decision-making process, it is the investor or the home buyer who takes a call.
Alibaug is the next best holidaying destination that is enjoying great demand from investors of second home. Deemed a globally emerging holiday destination, Alibaug has beaches, forts, temples, coconut trees, beautiful nature and more. Second home projects are being developed by the coastline. The proximity of projects to some of the finest beaches in Alibaug draws home buyers to a new lifestyle. Leading industrialists are foraying into this coastal town with a wide range of residential options. Alibaug�s connectivity to Mumbai by road, rail and waterways contributes towards the decision-making process.
The main aim of owning a second home is to spend time with family and friends. Second homes are also looked upon as an ideal option for spending a retired life away from the busy city. And capital appreciation is always an added bonus.                        q


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