Housing the Elements
A conservative client with conventional requirements - to build a large well-ventilated house for his large family. They preferred a strict adherence to Vastu & Manaiyadi Shastram principles in the design process. These early Vedic texts lay out the basics of building and spatial planning and are widely used as a guide to architectural designing and planning in Indian communities
The large plot of 6000 sqft allowed for a sprawling building, where the principles of vastu could be legitimately applied. The entire layout was conceived as the 9 squares of the traditional vastu grid. The appropriate functions were placed in the designated corners –such as the master bedroom in the south-west and kitchen in the south-east. The central axis of the house forms the major circulation spine and culminates in a pooja space that opens to the tulasi maadam outside. The clear planning allows for effortless movement and a legible house.
The house invites the elements in many ways. Every sandwiched square is a double-height which partially or wholly opens to the outside. This ensures cross ventilation keeping the living corners of the house very breezy. These spaces too are visually opened up to the green beyond – floor-length windows frame every view out into the garden from the occupied space. The result is a structure that has neither inside nor outside but a refreshing union of both – light, sight, and air enter and leave the building as they please making the whole structure breathe. Privacy is ensured by the thick foliage that encloses the structure on all sides.
A waterbody is introduced in one of the double heights, oriented to the wind direction. This is to create a pleasant microclimate that beats the humid heat of Salem.
A contemporary palette was chosen to wrap up the traditional layout. White and beige finishes were adopted to complement the openness ensured by the layout. Warm shades of wood contrasts with subtle colours & brass metal fixtures add the finishing touch. Along with these, the bright green shrubbery, the yellow light, and shimmering water themselves act as fluid finishes proudly adorned by the house, making it come alive.
The entire structure is visually porous along its central axes; the different layers of the house - the open and closed volumes, the incident light, choice of material & accessories - can be framed along these axes to instill a sense of curiosity and wonderment.
Design Team Malli Saravanan
Text Credit Harini
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