[Text as submitted by architect] The clients are a family of four settled in Oman who identify deeply with the traditions and culture of their homeland. Through an elaborate handwritten letter, the client’s wife conveyed her wish to have a house designed for her family. The letter explained her vision of her future home which she desired to be in keeping with traditional Kerala architecture philosophies. The requirement was a modest 4 bedroom house with family gathering spaces where they could entertain guests or host an evening soiree. The 0.96 acre site is set in the town of Punalur, a location that receives heavy monsoons yet shows the highest record temperature in the state of Kerala. The mildly contoured plot has abundant vegetation indigenous to the locality, most of which are rubber plantations. The site is accessed from a narrow road leading uphill, and the plot slopes downward from the entry, with a relatively flat strip in the middle and steeper slope towards the rear. The zoning of the site and demarcation of the buildable area was done considering minimal intervention, retaining maximum trees.
The design is a direct response to its tropical rural context,with priority given to climatically responsive solutions. A well shaded buffer zone surrounding the living spaces would create a pleasant microclimate within, preventing heat build-up in the interiors. This is achieved by roofing the house under a large pitched roof with overhangs extending about 3.8 meter beyond the walls of the house. This creates a shaded transition zone underneath the overhang that serves as a family gathering area, protected from the heat and rains, which is in essence, a reinterpretation of the traditional veranda. A large solo roof housing the entire built volume achieving double layering is the concept that guided the evolution of the design.
The planning of the house emphasizes the link between common areas, that is, the living, dining and kitchen, making sure they retain connectivity to each other, as well as to the outdoors. The bedrooms are in a more private zone, with balconies extending out into the shaded veranda.The client’s inclination towards traditional design has been taken into consideration while designing the house, by incorporating a contemporary interpretation of the “chuttu-verandah” of the past (a continuous veranda running along the periphery). The colonnade along the edge of this veranda emphasises the scale of the building while the grill work becomes a screen that maintains privacy in the transition zone. The verticality and repetitive nature of the columns alternating with the grills define the façade of the house.
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The choice of materials cater to an earthy palette with the natural finishes of the house blending seamlessly into the tropical rural context. Major portion of the exterior walls are brick finish,alternating with cement finish.Veranda floor is finished with flamed granite stone. Influence of the timeless traditional architectural philosophies as well as the climatically-responsive design of the house imparts an ethereal quality to it. The design is, in every sense, a solution to the constraints posed by the warm humid tropics of Kerala.