POINTS OF VIEW

Ar­chi­tec­tural firm De­sign Ashram in Cali­cut (DAC) lets this home by the Chali­yar River, Ker­ala pay homage to its sur­round­ings while us­ing straight lines and a con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic

India Today - - SPACES - By BRIJESH SHAIJAL

Nes­tled by the Chali­yar River, this prop­erty in Azhin­jilam, Cali­cut, Ker­ala is called the Hid­den House. The built area is lo­cated in a pocket deep inside the ex­pan­sive four-acre plot so the bun­ga­low does not have vis­ual ac­cess from the main gate. In­stead, the drive­way or­gan­i­cally be­comes a se­ries of wind­ing curves. Visi­tors catch glimpses of the home from shift­ing per­spec­tives; some between the dense fo­liage, some undis­turbed by these. From one point to another, the el­e­ments that are em­pha­sised in the fa­cade change, mak­ing the jour­ney a treat for the senses. It took us four years to cre­ate this mag­num opus.

CLEVER SPA­TIAL MAN­AGE­MENT

The client lives over­seas and trav­els to Ker­ala of­ten with his fam­ily. He wanted the per­fect bal­ance between lux­ury and sim­plic­ity. Another re­quire­ment was con­nec­tiv­ity between fam­ily mem­bers within the liv­ing space. The nat­u­ral en­dow­ments of the site—the ver­dant vis­tas and the prox­im­ity to the Chali­yar River were el­e­ments that needed to in­cor­po­rated inro the de­sign of the home. Spa­tial or­gan­i­sa­tion was done in such a way that the pub­lic and pri­vate zones were clearly separated by a light-filled foyer that leads to the out­door court­yard. Fur­ther, in the fam­ily liv­ing area, the open kitchen, liv­ing room and be­d­rooms are ar­ranged around an en­closed pa­tio, en­sur­ing that a de­gree of vis­ual con­nec­tiv­ity between

the in­hab­i­tants al­ways ex­ists. We kept as much of the ex­ist­ing veg­e­ta­tion and max­imised views of the river.

LOUVRES ADD CHAR­AC­TER

The el­e­va­tion of the home was de­vel­oped from its mass­ing (a term that refers to the per­cep­tion of the gen­eral shape and form as well as size of a build­ing). The fa­cade was kept sim­ple. The L shaped louvres add char­ac­ter to the res­i­dence, while pro­vid­ing a de­gree of shade to the ex­te­rior sur­faces and giv­ing rise to in­ter­est­ing ef­fects with the play of light and shade.

ONE ROOM FLOWS INTO THE OTHER

You en­ter the 12,000 sq ft bun­ga­low through a cob­ble­stone drive­way that fol­lows the curves of the me­an­der­ing river. The main ve­ran­dah over­looks a stand­alone porch, clad in traver­tine stone and sur­rounded by land­scaped pock­ets which opens into a light-filled foyer ex­tend­ing to an open-to-sky court­yard. The for­mal liv­ing area con­nects to the out­side through a river-fac­ing deck. The din­ing area and open kitchen are con­nected to the fam­ily liv­ing area which looks into a ve­ran­dah sur­round­ing the large en­closed court­yard. The be­d­rooms are ar­ranged around this pa­tio, be­hind the wall of which is a stair­case lead­ing to the ser­vice and util­ity area.

PRETTY LIGHTS, BEAU­TI­FUL FLOORS

The light­ing fix­tures are used like jew­ellery. Take for in­stance an in­ter­sec­tion of cubes that hangs sus­pended in the for­mal liv­ing space or the sculp­ture of cir­cles wo­ven through each other that light up the din­ing area. Here, light be­comes art. Like the light­ing the floor­ing stands out as well. The be­d­rooms are de­tailed with the warmth of wood while the kitchen uses white vit­ri­fied full-body tiles; sheen is added with the pres­ence of gold me­tal sec­tions at the joints. Clay tiles, a stone fa­cade and slen­der me­tal louvres in shades of brown and grey com­ple­ment the nat­u­ral beauty sur­round­ing the built area. The re­sult is a home that looks mod­ern yet homely.

Ar­chi­tect Brijesh Shaijal started Ker­ala-based BS Ar­chi­tects in 2005 and is the co-founder of World Ar­chi­tec­ture Travel. A decade later he set up De­sign Ashram in Cali­cut (DAC) with the aim of de­vel­op­ing a com­mu­nity that thinks be­yond ar­chi­tec­ture. www.dac­gobal.org

COURTING GOOD DE­SIGN The lou­vred fa­cade of the Hid­den House (top); the liv­ing area opens into a court­yard (above)

SERENE SPACE The bed­room (right) has a wooden floor­ing to add warmth to the space; the liv­ing room (be­low) uses cus­tom-made car­pets to cre­ate a rich feel

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