Excerpt: The Brick Veedu by Onebulb Architecture Studio is a residence designed with natural material and passive techniques to tackle the extreme climatic conditions. The warmth of the spaces is emphasised by the harmony of traditional vibrant elements and natural finishes, while the space’s character is defined by the metallic and minimalist décor. The house exhibits a timeless aesthetic quality and ages gracefully with time.
[Text as submitted by architect] Set in the residential urban fabric of the Madurai, the “Brick Veedu” ( வீடு – Home) is built with a subtle yet bold character in strong contradiction to its neighborhood dwellings. The intent was to give life to the client’s requirements in the form of open volumes that are visually connected – with bricks as their embodiment. On a linear south-facing site of 45’ x 75’, the abode is specifically designed with natural material and passive techniques to tackle the extreme climatic conditions of the region.
The theme of building materials wanting to be their own earnestly inspired from Laurie Baker – further supplement the spaces in the form of stones, wood, steel and colorful Athangudi tiles (hand-made tiles from the village of Athangudi). The spaces are also a conscious reflection of the architects imagination and ideals, there in constantly striving to break stereotypes that include heavy plasterwork, gilded metal grills for the purpose of security and even the idea of ‘elevation design’. The richness in architectural vocabulary and cultural elements is felt as one explores the elements designed within.
A rich and ornate Chettinad door set on an exposed concrete and brick wall framed with landscape on either side imprints a nostalgic entrance on one’s mind. The approach to planning began with creating volumes upon which spaces were added to create openness. They are placed in a hierarchy that invites the family to come together and interact. The living room opens into a double height courtyard with a central staircase adorned with stone and wooden treads with a small built-in seating. It leads to an interesting common foyer on the first floor level.
A simple but elaborate extension of the staircase landing space into an open meditation area with a Mexican dome as its crown, and a bridge with skeletal steel frame lend interest in holistic spatial experience. The minimal handrail along the bridge maintains the permeability and visual connectivity within the house. As the spaces are planned to look inwards to the central double height area, they exude an innate sense of openness without any compromise in the functionality.
The bedrooms and the dining space has a long built-in seating overlooking the tranquil garden outside. The master bedroom has a stepped foyer which also serves as seating along the courtyard. As one steps onto the bridge, a long articulated window adorns the entire northern and eastern façade – with variations on transparency and materiality. It leads to a well shaded and landscaped terrace for tea in the evenings.
Each space is a conscious amalgamation of natural finishes like exposed brickwork and rubble masonry for walls, textured exposed concrete, filler slab and brick-dome for ceiling. The use of Athangudi tiles and oxide flooring creates a luxurious ambience and creates a sense of nostalgia as it ages gracefully over time. The balance of natural finishes and traditional vibrant elements highlight the warmth of the spaces and the metallic and minimal décor defines the character of the space. The abode reflects timeless aesthetic quality and beautifully ages over time.