A Riverside Kerala Home Where the Glass Facade Brings Stunning Views Indoors
On the banks of the Chaliyar river, 12km away from Kozhikode in Kerala, is the home of an NRI couple who too parted with the concrete jungle for something closer to the real thing—a lush, 6-acre plot of land. What was meant to be a weekend home turned into a secluded escape for the family in the year of lockdowns and social-distancing.
The 2,220-square-foot glass-and-concrete structure, topped by a wing-shaped inverted roof of lightweight steel and wood, peeks out from this vegetation and quietly puts on a show. “Like a mirror, the structure reflects the sky, river and greenery. Solar-reflective glazing creates a unique ocular experience: a façade that shape-shifts as day morphs into dusk,” the architects explain.
In contrast to the façade, the material palette of concrete, kadappa tiles and wooden slats on the ceiling makes for interiors that are a nod to Kerala’s vernacular architecture and feel cosy and lived-in. In the two bedrooms, on the first floor, the glass façade allows one to simultaneously revel in the feeling of lying outdoors under a canopy of trees and enjoy the creature comforts of a vintage wooden four-poster bed. The view remains the hero even in the powder room, which is fitted with a picture window that overlooks the river.
A Sustainable Family Home in Kerala Built Around a Jackfruit Tree
A jackfruit tree and the need for privacy formed the basis of architect Vinu Daniel’s creative exploration when he was approached by a client to build a family home for eight near Ernakulam, Kerala. The tree in question held court over one corner of the site. “This gave form to the idea of a compound wall that revolves around the tree and twists upwards to join the ferro-cement shell roof of the house seamlessly,” the architect explains. “This in turn created a small intimate space, landscaped like a Japanese zen garden,” he adds. Though located near the entrance of the home, this courtyard has ample shade and privacy for family gatherings and is also easily accessible from the kitchen.
The 2,750 square-foot home is spread across two storeys. The first floor accommodates an open living and dining area, three bedrooms, kitchen, and an outdoor barbecue. A fourth bedroom and reading area are housed on the second floor, alongside an adjoining balcony and terrace. Staying true to the firm’s sustainable design philosophy, the house has been constructed from compressed stabilised earth blocks (CSEB) and rammed earth walls.
Across the home, large openings in the walls ensure plenty of natural light, cross-ventilation and views of the surrounding greenery. For both privacy and security, grills were designed by piecing together discarded pipes from the scrapyard. “These pipes then come alive and fold in and out to become chandeliers in all the rooms,” Daniel points out. “This is not only in line with the concept of upcycling but also creates art pieces that cast veristic shadows on the walls throughout the day.”
A Community of Villas Inspired by the Native Architecture of Kerala
“Our ever-growing cities bursting at the seams have been the least safe during the pandemic, and with internet connectivity making 'work from anywhere' possible, many have migrated to smaller towns that provide socially-distanced infrastructure in a process of reverse urbanization,” points out George E. Ramapuram, the principal architect at Earthitects, a Bangalore-based design firm.
Pushing the envelope is their latest project called Stone Lodges in Wayanad, a gated community of fifteen villas on thirteen acres of land, inspired by the grammar of mountain lodges, combined with Kerala’s native design aesthetic. “Staying true to our philosophy, the materials used are natural, with wooden flooring, random-rubble walls, cobblestone pathways, and log rafters,” Ramapuram says. Each villa slices the mountain on three distinct levels, blending into the landscape. Given the sprawl, the facility is secured with advanced security systems and other amenities like rainwater harvesting, the upkeep of organic vegetable gardens, beehouses to conserve native bee species, and carefully-selected flower gardens to welcome indigenous butterflies.
The first and second lodge (or level) house the spacious 7,320 square-foot residence built on a 26,500 square-foot plot of land, with one bedroom at the entry level and two below, while the third level has an infinity pool surrounded by lily ponds. Each deck is designed in such a way that it has an endless, unobstructed forest view panorama. Everything including the floors, joinery, switchboards, skirting and furniture are handcrafted with live edge teak wood. Other natural materials used are clay roof tiles, eucalyptus poles in the ceiling, lapotra granite for counters and stone deck floors.
A Spacious Kerala Home that Propagates Courtyard Living
Courtyards have always been an essential part of traditional Indian homes, and even today find relevance. Once such home is this 5BHK bungalow in Palarivattom, Kerala, designed by Athira Prakash and Subi Surendran of Aavishkar Architects.
Since the home is sandwiched between houses on all sides, it has been well-planned to bring the views inside and create an introverted space," shares Prakash. The white facade gives the home its identity, pairing well with the terracotta walls. The home is spread across two floors and five bedrooms. The public spaces are planned around a central courtyard and this is where, truly, the heart of the home is.
The living room merges into the dining; the table and chairs were customised and manufactured by a local vendor. The space further opens into a garden. "The public spaces are conceived as inward-facing structures enclosing a central landscaped courtyard—which results in a light-filled, spacious, living, breathing abode with striking contemplative open spaces. A seamless flow of spaces is one of the highlights of this home—these open units provide privacy from the outdoors yet allow the dwellers to experience the outdoors," says Prakash.