Birch And Beautiful

Mahek Lalan


When an architect designs a home for himself, excessive eagerness can sometimes lead to profuse opulence with discordant elements struggling to co-exist in awkwardness. However, while designing the Birch Ply House, architect Mahek Lalan, SML Architects, did not fall into any such entrapment. As he set out to design his apartment, he chose to avoid “a surfeit of surface finishings and embellishments.” His minimalistic approach which eliminated any obfuscation in design has resulted in a home with a definite character of its own.

Lalan explains, “The Birch Ply House takes a conscious step to form an abode of calm and restraint through an extreme paring down of the palette to a few basic materials.”He cites two reasons for this approach – the first is that the apartment is a small two-bedroom one measuring a mere 800 sq ft. So, the minimalistic template worked in its favour by making the space appear expansive. The second is an attempt to keep away from adding components that are frame-worthy, but really quite fake.

Birch plywood in its raw, exposed form, is almost obsessively used for every conceivable element of the home from the door and window shutters to the jambs and handles, from fixed furniture items, partitions and storage units to screens, table tops, drawers and beds.

This sense of fluidity also continues in the other material used significantly in the apartment – the grey concrete floor. Used throughout the apartment, it provides an organic flow from one room to another.In both material choices, Lalan has stuck to a matt finish with the ruggedness of the concrete contrasting the soothing beige of the birch. 

The only other layer in the apartment is the white backdrop of the walls and ceilings. This, again, exudes an understated appearance. 

A gentle counterpoint to normative trends of residential interior design, the Birch Ply House is proof that innate simplicity will always win over exaggerated pretentiousness.