How this first-of-its-kind Glen Allen home uses the sun as a guide

The home’s orientation and room layout is based on its orientation with the sun. (PHOTO: Jonathan Spiers)

GLEN ALLEN, Va. — A local architect’s foray into residential development is introducing a home design concept that’s new to the Richmond market but has been in use for centuries on the other side of the world.

Aparna Patil, owner and principal of Glen Allen-based Mansara Architecture, has been turning heads in western Henrico County with the first of two new homes she and her husband, Nitin Patil, are developing at 4525 and 4529 Springfield Road.

The contemporary-style homes, featuring single-sloped roofs and hardieplank and brick facades, are the Patils’ first attempt at residential development since they launched Mansara in March last year.

The homes also are apparently the first of their kind in the Richmond area to have designs based on an ancient architectural practice called “vastu shastra” that originates from the Patils’ native India.

Aparna, who has been practicing in the Richmond area for more than a decade, previously as a project manager with nbj Architecture, said the concept is based primarily on a home’s orientation with the sun, with spaces divided into zones that then determine its layout.

“Each of these zones is attributed a certain quality, based on the rays of the sun, the quality of the light and the temperatures that this particular zone receives,” Aparna said. “Then you place the different functions of the building accordingly.

“For instance, southwest is where the master bedroom should be, because of the temperature. That is the zone that receives the maximum sunlight and is most heated and is therefore the most comfortable in the nights and evenings.”

She said vastu shastra has origins that date back as far as 3000 B.C. And according to members of AIA Richmond, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Aparna’s homes appear to be the first residential structures in the Richmond area to be built with the concept. They said nbj Architecture designed the nearby Hindu Center of Virginia in accordance with the concept as well.

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