This tranquil Kerala bungalow engages in a dialogue with nature, light, and air

This tranquil Kerala bungalow engages in a dialogue with nature, light, and air

The family home on outskirts of Thrissur, Kerala, has been designed by Monsoon Projects as an inward-looking, private sanctuary with green vistas within.

Located on an old property flanked by bungalows owned by the extended family, this Kerala home on the outskirts of Thrissur was just 150 metres away from a noisy traffic junction. Adarsh Rajendran, Shabin S Shajahan and Gokul GS of Monsoon Projects turned to the state's traditional Nalukettu style of construction-which typically features a courtyard in the centre- to address issues of light, ventilation, passive cooling and even to provide verdant views and create a world within itself. “The inner courtyards have been designed as natural landscapes within walls. This creates an envelope that keeps the house estranged from surrounding plots and provides the desired privacy,” says Shabin.

Within, this home is defined by the use of Kota stone on the floor, wood for the furniture and window frames, Corten steel for grills, and white walls. Profile lighting in slim strips with a few downlights have been used all over the house, in keeping with the minimal aesthetic.

The dining room is a double height space with a 20-foot-high ceiling, while other ceilings are 10 feet high. The staircase has wooden treads, appearing like a series of triangular wedge-like posts driven into the wall. The circular skylight above the staircase bathes the stairwell in a natural glow. In addition to the indoor courtyard, the foyer topped with a trellis completes the sources of overhead light. Keeping in mind issues of privacy and noise, the larger windows are on upper part of the structure. Two of the bedrooms overlook the courtyard while the other two enjoy a view of the koi pond.

Attention to detail adds visual interest in this Kerala home. Full height windows and doors are on a central pivot, rather than hinges. The windows are framed by a Corten steel plate which projects box-like into the courtyard. Functioning as a sunshade, its slim profile appears wafer-thin in contrast to the bulky concrete sun-shades which are customarily used. Just as in the houses of times past, the courtyard here is a space for social interaction within the family.

This tranquil Kerala bungalow engages in a dialogue with nature, light, and air
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“We studied the sun and wind patterns before locating the koi pond and the skylights,” says Gokul. The breeze gets cooled as it passes over the pond and then dissipates through the central courtyard. This evaporative cooling lowers temperatures in the house, while a stack effect ensures that warm air drifts out through the top of the courtyard. “In Kerala, humidity is more of a problem than high temperatures,” says Adarsh. “The ventilation in this home makes air conditioners unnecessary in the living areas—only the bedrooms have ACs. In fact, the clients have told us that they don’t even need to switch on fans in the public areas.”

“The architecture of this home does not require any embellishment,” says Adarsh. The very bones are visible, without being masked by any gimmicks or distractions. It relies on scale and volume together with a muted colour scheme and texture for its impact. Classic, yet contemporary with a frugal material palette, this home has been designed to withstand the test of time.

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