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by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Oct 05, 2022
Designing a home for an avid traveller comes with its own set of stumbling blocks, as inculcating a sense of adventure and surprise in a residential design situation is a proposition that may not be addressed too readily, in a manner that satisfies all the venture’s stakeholders. Indian architecture firm 3dor Concepts drew precedents from local traditional architecture as well as more modern archetypes, when called to design a house in Pazhayangadi, Kannur, Kerala, for Noufal Charan - a travel consultant and globetrotter - as well as his wife and three kids. Responding to the context and climate was crucial to the firm’s approach, and this precept helped to outline much of the final structure - almost unassuming on first impression, save for a dramatic sloping tile-clad roof, which swoops down to envelope much of the building’s street facing edifice.
Located on India’s southwestern coast, the home’s site is subject to a warm, maritime climate - with hot and humid weather throughout most of the year, save for a period of heavy rains during the monsoon season. In this vein, mediating the residence’s microclimate through passive design was crucial to the project’s success, by virtue of the potential discomfort brought on by the occasionally harsh weather. Naturally, a contextually sensitive approach would fare quite well under these parameters - a point that the team of Indian architects took note of early on. Another source of inspiration came from Kerala’s architectural traditions, which often feature generous courtyards, sloping tiled roofs, as well as the use of natural materials such as brick, mud, stone, and wood.
As a result, the House of Noufal amalgamates a host of influences into a cohesive environment, channelling counterpoint, rhythm, materiality, and light, into spaces that flow seamlessly from interior to exterior and vice versa. This positions the residence’s architecture distinctly within its context, but also equips it with enough divergences from the expected to keep things interesting for someone who has a wealth of knowledge on diverse experiences from across the world. On the outside, the home’s dynamic façade design, dominated by its pitched roof, translates a conventional element of the region’s vernacular architecture into a bold statement.
The steel frame supporting the roof tiles projects further beyond the large overhanging eaves, towards the ground at an angle, forming a triangular portal that precedes the verandah and entrance. A stark departure from the norm, yet familiar all the same, the roof structure slopes down towards the front of the site rather than down the sides - as in most cases - granting ample shade and privacy, with a solitary line of windows punched into its slope. Paired with steel members and glass panels, the materiality of the roof tiles intimately ties the building to its context, as such finishes are ubiquitous throughout the region as they perform exceedingly well in local conditions. Such roof assemblies are now almost emblematic of building traditions here, and 3dor Concepts’ reinterpretation is an apt new take that stays true to the spirit of the original.
Introducing the element of water into the fray - a very common trope in the canon of tropical modernism - the verandah at the front features a small pool that aids in cooling the exterior microclimate in the residence’s immediate vicinity. Past the threshold, an open plan space, filled with natural light from louvred wooden windows has been segregated at its centre into public and private segments by a miniature indoor court. Of the two arms of the plan, the zone neighbouring the entrance accommodates the living and dining spaces while the one on the opposing side of the court, the kitchen, work area, and a pair of bedrooms have been laid out on either side of a corridor.
Extending down from the first floor, a slender floating staircase design embraces the centre of the court, enclosed by railings with incredibly slim balusters. It also provided a point of focus for the home’s three levels to fan out from. Natural boulders and subtle landscaping decorate the court, a microcosm of a garden within a man-made landscape. The area it decorates is a double height space, with a number of expansive framed glass windows that connect it to the exterior, further blurring boundaries between inside and outside. Additionally, the row of windows embedded into the sloping roof assembly runs directly over this area, filling it with light to the very brim.
Stone, wood, exposed concrete, and terrazzo flooring are the main constituents of the material palette followed throughout the interior design, complemented by wooden furniture with both old pieces that were sourced, as well as new ones made with traditional detailing. Throughout the double height space, the roof assembly has been left exposed, such that users can constantly admire the intricate detailing of the steel frames that support the tiling. On the upper floor, the program areas include two bedrooms connected by a hall, with a terrace on the topmost level accessible by means of the staircase.
The blend of modernity and tradition, comfort and exposure, with combinations of natural and artificial components, cements the House of Noufal within its context - both aesthetically and functionally - and offers a fair share of surprise at every turn. Veering away from superficial depictions of regional building traditions and instead opting to implement them in a manner that is coherent with contemporary architectural precedents, the project is a thought-provoking addition to the region’s built environment, one that could inspire further investigation into creating engaging and curiosity-provoking spaces through passive design.
Name: House of Noufal
Project Location: Pazhangadi, Kannur, Kerala, India
Gross Built Up Area: 242 sqm
Year of Completion: 2022
Architect: 3dor Concepts
Lead Architects: Ahmad Thaneem Abdul Majeed, Muhammed Jiyad, Muhammed Naseem
Structural Engineer: Deframez
Contractor: Home Style
Landscape: Abid Noori
Metalwork: PS Metal Fab
Lighting: Nikshan Electronics
Fabrics: Draft Deck
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