The Honeycomb-like Facade of This Family Home Designed by Ahmedabad-Based Architecture Firm Opens and Closes with the Sunlight

This house has ever-changing facade encapsulated with solar-sensor-based modules that open and close in response to the changes in the intensity of light.

Hive is an intelligent, adaptable, and sustainable family home in Surat, Gujarat, conceptualised and designed by Ahmedabad-based Openideas Architecture. The most striking feature of the project is its ever-changing facade, designed in the form of a honeycomb or carbon crystals, encapsulated with solar-sensor-based modules that open and close in response to the changes in the intensity of light. The house's structure is seeded in the profession of the client Kamalbhai Mistry — who is part of an extremely successful company engaged in making machines for the diamond industry. The architects shared with SURFACES REPORTER (SR) how this project satisfies the client's 90-point brief with inputs connected to various points — from the structure, landscape, planning, materials, sustainability, insulation, HVAC and plumbing, along with the entire year's sun path study. Have a look:

Also Read: Facade that Also Works As A Butterfly Garden

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

Located in Vesu, an upcoming locality of Surat, the project is designed as per the 90-point brief with the client's inputs. Being well-informed about architecture and his core competency in mechanical engineering, the client was very clear about what he wanted as a 'home' — a smart structure rendered in metal and a 'mono-space' living area. 

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

He gave inputs connected to several diverse points — from the design, landscape, planning, materials, sustainability, insulation, HVAC and plumbing, along with the entire year's sun path study.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The plotted development has apartment complexes on the east and west plots. This particular project was part of four plots taken for the extended Mistry family.

Sustainable Building Design

With the dominant presence of metal, the concepts of long span, lightweight, a complex form and fast construction came on board, with the form itself being moulded by an in-depth analysis of external temperature, humidity, solar radiation, cloud cover and wind pattern.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The architecture is expressed as an angular V-shaped structure oriented towards the green pockets spread around the house.

Also Read: Darkened Wood Facade and Steeply Pointed Roofs Signifies the Sustainable Tree Houses by Peter Pichler Architecture

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The entrance creates a bridge and valley experience, with a sunken court and stepped garden, a linear arrival corridor and the walk-able green roof with varying slopes.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

This roof technically acts as thermal insulation, lowering the interiors' overall temperature while functionally doubles up as a congregational area for social gatherings.

Solar-Sensors Based Facade

Undoubtedly, the architectural presence is established by the solar sensor-based facade, which lies at an exciting intersection of art and engineering.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

Its geometry is inspired by the hexagonal structural patterns found in nature, such as honeycombs and carbon crystals — giving the project its name.

Also Read: Nuru Karim designs ‘Solar Tree’ Made of Wood and Steel to Combat Climate Change | Modular Architecture | Nudes

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

Biomimicry Shapes the Building Design

Analysed as per the structure, function and mechanism, its design is based on structural strength, transformability and biomimicry. The facade positions' unique opening mechanism are derivatives of quality of light exposure and thermal comfort levels inside the house. Experientially, the modules create striking sciagraphy by casting patterns that change with the sun's diurnal rhythm.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The internal program has been conceived as open and fluid, both in plan and volume. Devoid of dividing partition walls, the ground floor's fluid spaces have sensorial segregation of public, private and semi-private zones through modulations in the outer envelope along with a bespoke sculptural entrance vestibule.

How the Intensity of Light Impacts the Honeycomb-like Facade of The Hive

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The upper level, accessed via a sculptural staircase, accommodated two bedrooms. The connection to greens remains steadfast owing to the presence of a small garden attached to each bedroom.

Also Read: Pangolin Pavilion Designed to Raise Awareness Against Poaching | Parametric Architecture | ANT Studio

Material Palette

Materiality includes metal with SS powder coating for the facade, and wood and stone in the interiors to bring in a home's warmth.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The inspiration for the envelope and several other house elements, say the architects, were found small, everyday things.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

While doors of airport buses inspired the façade mechanism, the stair structure (which spans seven metres and has a thickness of 38 mm) was taken from the structural formation of hexagonal diagrid popular seen in Ikea furniture pieces.

Similarly, the movement of radio antennae informs the window opening mechanisms, and the 'kadki door' of forts (a door within a door) was replicated in the entrance.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

For the architects, this project's speciality lay in a client who was open-minded and intrepid, ready to experiment with ideas that didn't have many precedents.

Also Read: 5 Sustainable Futuristic Materials that Will Transform the Face of Architecture

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

The client viewed this building like a product/machines he deals in, so the insistence on 'manufacturing' it flawlessly. He wanted something unique in every detail, which put a lot of pressure on the design team to deliver and not fail their expectations.

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

Architecture Firm Ahmedabad

Therefore, all the ideas that went into its making were backed with intensive research and prototyping.


This project has given the architects the confidence to think differently, think big, and engage in extensive research and detailing to give form to the dreams harboured during the designing phase.

The honeycomb-like facade of this futuristic home opens and closes with sunlight

About the Firm

Open Ideas is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Ahmedabad & Surat initiated in 2009,led by Monarch Champaneri, Nilesh Gajera & Niralee Champaneri. The architecture company proposes results from its continuous search for balance between process oriented approach, coordination of materials, technology, and play of light. The firm believes in designing and constructing space that reflects functional, social and aesthetic consideration, providing a comfortable environment for the clients.

Project Details

Project Name: HIVE
Firm Location: Ahmedabad, India
Completion Year: 2019
Gross Built Area: 600 sq m
Project location: Surat 

Other Credits:

Lead Architects: Monarch Champaneri, Nilesh Gajera, Niralee Champaneri
Design Team: Vishal Patel, Sahil Soni, Nishant Chauhan, Jainika Patel, Manasi Hathiwala,  Kashyap Parshala, Zeb Saiyed
Facade Engineers : Mechanical engineers - Ensemble , Electronics - WNeuron
Photo / Video Credits
Photo credits: Fabien Charuau & Panchkon           

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