The site is in Kerala, India, 4 km from Changanacherry’s town centre, in a residential area. The site has an oblong trapezoidal shape, with the longer sides roughly orientated northwest-southeast. It is elevated from the road by 1.2 metres and has a flat terrain. The settlement pattern around the site is primarily Individual homes clustered together in an enclosed compound with lush green flora. The total site area is 4107 sq.m
Location: Changanacherry, Kerala, India
Area: 456.17 sq.m.
Year of completion: 2019
We adhere to the notion of architecture appropriée (or “suitable architecture”), which develops from the specific harmonious fusing of physical setting, the client’s brief, and our own design considerations. This results in the fundamental process of architectural creating, which is at once organic as well as intentional, guided & inspired by our professional expertise, profound intuitions and distinct insights. Our personal experience attests to the fact that the process is never formulaic or algorithmic, and its results are consistently wondrous—not merely to see and experience but, more significantly, to dwell in.
In Alankar Residence, we have undertaken a historical and speculative study of the concept of a residence. Through such an investigation, the work aims to make apparent fundamental ideas that support architecture by providing a sensory-rich environment for enhancing life. In addition, the work adds a particular amount of richness and subtlety to Kerala’s pervasive urban reality at the micro-level of a housing project.
The typical (and common) compound wall enclosure and gate are redefined by utilising the site’s 1.2 m. elevation from the street. The 3 m. high front boundary wall of Alankar Residence is designed to delineate the site’s perimeter while also serving as its “edge” in a more “urban” sense. A three-car grilled garage that is setback by 3 metres from the street, a covered pedestrian entrance with wooden doors, and two differently sized yet strategically placed apertures ensure visual continuity between the street and the enclosed front yard. The main entrance to the building is axial to the covered pedestrian entrance from the street. To the left of this axis is the gravelled front-yard which flows into an L-shaped open-to-sky pool; to its right is the roof of the garage that could be converted into a patio with landscaping in the future. The building’s facade involves a solid-void interplay, framed by double-height columns and a thick brick wall. The formal living room (with double-height ceilings) and the dining room overlooks the pool, adding different moods and ambiance emulating the seasonal changes. Two bedrooms, a prayer room, a kitchen, and service areas are all located on the ground floor. A family living area and three additional bedrooms are located on the first floor. The house has a total built-up area of 456.17 square metres.
Alankar Residence plays with spatial volumes to create areas for living, work, leisure, repose and reflection. These areas are primarily introverted and centered around the internal open-to-sky pool as the client-family preferred seclusion. The pool and its reflection on the water provides a play of chiaroscuro (light and shadow/darkness) in the covered areas nearby. This effect is further enhanced by a system of varied fenestration, including grills, louvres, and windows with glass and wooden shutters.
The terrace’s inverted-sloped tiled-roof pavilion, a key component of the architectural composition inspired by Kerala’s tropical-monsoon climate, has not yet been built. But in a way, the structure is already “complete” in its current state. If the client ever builds this pavilion, the structure will just be “more complete.” The careful application of a variety of materials and finishes, including cement plastering, unplastered brick, wood, glazed cement tiles with geometric patterns, and brushed granite, gives the building’s occupants a multisensory experience.