Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Residence at Punkunnam in Kerala, India by Lijo Reny Architects
July 7th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Lijo Reny Architects
The compound wall is a simple contemporary design, which breaks at two points, on either side of the site, to form horizontal openings that give a glimpse of the serene landscape within. The compound wall was designed in this fashion so that it compliments the building within it. It accommodates two entries to the site, a vehicular gate & a wicket gate. The wicket gate stands under a gateway that which is totally contemporary and a very good example of how traditional elements can be used in a modern context. The gateway connects the compound wall to the house visually, a point that is missed in most of the houses today.
Space for a planter was found out side the compound wall, between the two entries, by setting in the wall. This setting in of the compound wall and the main gate connected to it facilitates better turning radius for vehicles entering the compound.
Having no thread to pick up from the context in which it stands, this unique creation that spreads, on a 10 cent corner plot, to an area of 2750 sq ft, in Hari Sri residential colony, in Trichur, makes a bold statement as a silent protest against the pseudo traditionalism that has been plaguing the present architectural scenario in Kerala,(India).
The juxtaposed solid form with its structural walls pulled out, ensures a perpetual play of light and shadow. The structural fins that come out redirects breeze into the building at various openings as well as adds a certain aesthetic character of the building. The various masses that rise and fall are a pure reflection of the volume contained within.
The landscape is kept minimal to avoid the clutter that usually turns out to be maintenance constrain. Also the minimal landscape complements the visually complicated form. The waterspout is also custom designed and positioned in a way it gels well with the rest of the design. Entering through either of the gates, one has to tread the various levels to reach the sit out. These levels integrate the building into the landscape.
As one enters the site, the pool with the tree in the middle is that which catches ones attention. Moreover one would not fail to note the striking contrast between the water court and the dry court, near the sit out, rendering an unconventional feel to the space.
On entering the house one would be taken aback by the sheer volume of the interior space. This is achieved by the 8m height above the skylight court in the living and above the staircase and also by the quantity of light flooding in through the two huge sky lights. Each of the skylights run both vertically and horizontally, the vertical being that of frost glass, for privacy and the horizontal that of reflective glass, to cut out maximum heat, at the same time to give glimpses of the changing sky. The skylights being the highest point in the house have been provided with air vents to facilitate airflow through stack effect. The openness of the living, dining and the family space gives an unobstructed volume for the easy ventilation.
The skylight court in the living has a growing bamboo. It branches out in to the living to add vibrancy and life. The family space, viewed from the living room below, designed like a bridge; seem to hover in mid air, having painted a slightly darker shade of grey. The clock is one of its kinds. The architects themselves design it. It’s designed with an aluminum section for the body and industrial drill bits for the digits and is mounted on the wall.
The dining area is segregated from the living area with a wall, that fall short of reaching the ceiling that in turn help in giving the family deck above a floating effect. The curio taking punctured partition wall between the living and the dining gives necessary privacy required without marring the openness of the collective space. The dining with its full-length seating serves its purpose during post dinner discussions and siestas.
The kitchen too has an in-built seating which turns out to be a multipurpose area for cutting vegetables, grating coconut (due to its comfortable height) and of course as an informal seating, just to mention a few. The breakfast counter also doubles up as study table for kids. Another interesting add on is the inclusion of work area space into the kitchen space itself, in turn avoiding a separate work area altogether. This helps in giving the kitchen a more spacious feel. The light that filters through the skylight above the stair find its way, mildly, through the small glazed openings that touch the ceiling above the kitchen cabinets.
The master bedroom and the guest bedroom have a foyer each, which opens into the court in the living, giving quite a rare feel while breaking all conventional notions about a bedroom. Interestingly this space can be used as a reading corner, for ironing or for dressing. The foyer seating is design with inbuilt storage below the. This space attached to bedroom help double the space visually.
The bedrooms have a raised platform, which doubles up to take the bed. These platform beds have ample storage space below them. Just Above the platform the bedroom ceiling splits, to add an additional 0.9m height to the room. The higher point takes the air vents and the exhaust to keep the air circulating, which ensure the comfort levels in the bedrooms.
Having combined the dress and the toilet, a spacious feel is achieved which is accentuated further by the colour band running from the floor to the ceiling and back. The reference lines that run throughout the house are very visible, as the grooves done on the doors are also carried on to the window and wardrobe shutters. The simple design of the doors is further enhanced by recessing in the wall that takes it, that gives it a larger and unconventional feel.
The family space doubles as a home theater with the screen placed on the double height wall that springs from the dining. The acoustical quality of the design gives a consistent audio output anywhere in the internal open space of the family deck as well as the dining and the living below.
The various unobstructed volumes of spaces around the family deck, in the first floor, render it as a platform suspended in mid air. The openness of this, keeps the house well ventilated.
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