By Marina Correa
Photography: Kunjan Garg, Rajasekharan Menon, Harikrishnan; courtesy RGB Architecture Studio
A single-family residence located in Palakkad, Kerala blends into the neighbourhood landscape, while it makes use of ecologically-conscious features to maintain a pleasant temperature year-round in spite of the region’s harsh and dry climate…
Since a large area of the plot was significantly below the approach road, RGB Architecture Studio have indigenously blueprinted the design with split levels instead of resorting to the conventional practice of raising the ground level; as a corollary, the architects saw immense potential for setting a benchmark for meaningful climate-sensitive architecture in this locality.
So, based on their inter-relationships and desired levels of privacy, the 3,750 sq. ft. abode is distributed over four major plateaus, designed along the north-south axis. By further hollowing out the site and propping it on pilotis, an 8-ft height for parking and storage is culled out as basement level – rooting it in context.
Communal spaces anoint the ground floor at +5 ft. level; functional areas are housed on the +8 ft.-level first floor, whilst privacy is maintained on + 15 feet level upper-most floor. Undoubtedly, the double-height dining area is the hub, with all spaces overlooking it.
Terraces (for extended domestic farming and solar roofing), gardens and decks act as green pockets - imbuing the home with an organic feel; further emphasized by the raw concrete ceiling and a colour and material palette grounded in earthiness.
Applying low-cost, high-impact traditional techniques and materials to screen off the harsh sun and torrential rains, operable wooden louvers, propped-up screens, sloping roof, purposeful orientation of spaces etc. not only brings about remarkable solutions but also reinforces an archetypal picture of a tropical abode.
For instance, the south and west facing bedrooms are subtly lit with plywood-infilled windows, additional layer of aluminum louvers, thick cavity walls, terracotta jaalis etc., whilst public areas are oriented towards north and east and, in stark contrast, treated with transparent surfaces to maintain inside-outside continuum.
Besides acting as a buffer, the sloping roof hugs the ground and relates to a human scale, thus achieving its second aim of making the structure graciously sit within its surrounding, while architecturally harnessing its true potential.