Thought Parallels unites tropical modernism with tradition for Overture house in Kerala

Designed by Nikhil Mohan and Shabna Nikhil, this home exudes modern elegance with life-enhancing spaces that are built in accordance with the surrounding landscape.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Sep 17, 2020

In the leafy surrounds of Payyoli in Kerala, India, architecture and design firm Thoughts Parallels has designed a 10,000 sqft residence for Ayani family. Led by Principal Architect Nikhil Mohan and Creative Director Shabna Nikhil, the firm has been working with a sensitivity to nature to create contemporary designs with regional references and address tropical modernism with architecture that resonates within its context and time.

In this home designed for Ayanis, the owner wished to branch off from the city to his native village where he could live close to his family and relatives. “The client wanted this home to be a part of their extended family environment. The family desired an expression from architects who could read the surrounding landscape and acknowledge the splendor of its essence,” says Nikhil. The owner wanted the house to create nurturing environment for children and be a welcoming space for guests. The client’s appreciation of the design process and the realisation of the demands of the place made the dialogue between client and architects enriching. Talking about the house’s name, Overture, Nikhil shares, “Overture, as the meaning suggests, is an introduction to something more substantial. A prelude to an existing typology, which can unlock further potential”.

  • The bedroom on the upper floor at Overture by Thought Parallels in Payyoli, Kerala | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    The bedroom on the upper floor at Overture by Thought Parallels in Payyoli, Kerala Image: Ashik Aseem
  • Living area on the ground floor | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    Living area on the ground floor Image: Ashik Aseem

Keeping the client’s vision in mind, the designers feature a biophilic design, where the house’s distinctive form echoes the architectural style of Malabar region. It is partly inspired by the ‘tharavadu’ – traditional houses of Kerala, a rich repository of the Indian culture. Nikhil explains the traditional style of architecture that here brings with it contemporary design, saying, “Tharavadu is the antithesis of a nuclear family. In such spaces, architecture should accommodate multiple people and different situations. There should be gathering spaces, clearly defined private spaces and a large verandah to entertain. The culture of entertaining guests in Malabar homes is very strong. We designed the house to effortlessly facilitate these through its architecture”.

  • The entrance to the residence designed by Thought Parallels flanked by courtyards on both sides | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    The entrance to the residence designed by Thought Parallels flanked by courtyards on both sides Image: Ashik Aseem
  • Kota stone and Indian teakwood primarily used in the interiors of the home | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    Kota stone and Indian teakwood primarily used in the interiors of the home Image: Ashik Aseem

As the Ayanis were particular about the division of social and family spaces, the communal areas have been positioned away from the private zones. On entering the house, the main corridor provides an immediate view to the two smaller courtyards. Hardwood screens have been installed to visually connect the indoors with the outdoors. “The design solution focuses on the interaction of the family living-dining area with the large courtyard. The limits between interior and exterior spaces are diluted. Nature is summoned into the house which becomes greener towards the large courtyard,” mentions Shabna.

  • Ground floor plan at Overture by Thought Parallels | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    Ground floor plan - Overture by Thought Parallels Image: Courtesy of Thought Parallels
  • First floor plan at Overture by Thought Parallels | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    First floor plan – Overture by Thought Parallels Image: Courtesy of Thought Parallels

The programmatic allocation of the spaces has been carried out in a simple manner; the house consists of five bedrooms, a kitchen, a formal and a family living-dining area and a covered parking. The design unifies these functions into a single volume with the two courtyards that clearly demarcate the difference between the social and private spaces, which have been distributed through a central corridor. Each introverted space has been visually connected to the opulent exteriors, an approach to benefit health and well-being.

  • The exterior of the home expresses bold elements with a calm ambience | | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    The exterior of the home expresses bold elements with a calm ambience Image: Ashik Aseem
  • The social space in the Overture that blurs boundaries between the inside and outside | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    The social space in the Overture that blurs boundaries between the inside and outside Image: Ashik Aseem

The house’s primary architectural form has been created by a series of mild-steel frames as a bold expression of the structure. Nikhil shares, “From outside, the house has a peaceful quality; simple white walls with effortless openings. In many ways, it's like a person. Though deceivingly modest from the street view, the inside is colossal as a result of the way the design builds into the lush green landscape”.

The house has been designed with every detail being given importance, such as the placement and design of the courtyards, the segregation of the social and private spaces and the volumetric play of the interior ceilings. “This gives integrity and individuality to each space,” adds Shabna. Western breezes have been directed towards the façade on its windward side, creating a calm, protected zone on the leeward-side.

  • Inspired by traditional architecture of Malabar and tharavudu homes, Overture has ample sunlight and well-ventilated spaces | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    Inspired by traditional architecture of Malabar and tharavudu homes, Overture has ample sunlight and well-ventilated spaces Image: Ashik Aseem
  • The social dining space | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
    The social dining space Image: Ashik Aseem

Reminiscent of the traditional houses of Kerala, the materiality of Overture exhibits elements that integrate the imagery of the location into it. The interiors include an overlay of Indian teakwood in contrast with Kota stone with subtle textures creating a minimal appeal. In combination with a delicate steel structure, the ambience of the house connects with the coastal environment to create a calm and concordant composition. The vertical louver in the verandah has mosquito nets embedded in it. The louver constantly brings in fresh air into the green court behind and to the interior of the house. The residence also includes a variety of renewable energy methods to curb energy consumption; a solar panel system, a landscape design that preserves existing native species, and lowering temperatures with the surrounding vegetation.

TThe exteriors offer a recall to the traditional architecture of Kerala in India  | Overture for Ayanis by Thought Parallels | STIRworld
The exteriors offer a recall to the traditional architecture of Kerala in India Image: Ashik Aseem

Providing a modern touch without radically breaking the contemporary aesthetics sought by the client, the Ayani house by Thought Parallels proposes an architecture that is responsive to traditional learnings, nature, and modernity of the times.

Project Details

Name: Overture
Location: Payolli, Kerala, India
Client: Mehaboob Ayani
Area: 10,000 sqft
Site area: 1 acre
Year of completion: 2019
Time taken for construction: 2 years in total
Name of the design firm: Thought Parallels
Design team: Nikhil, Najeera, Jinesh, Akshay, Faazil, Aparna, Jitin and Shabna
Consultant: Hascon for construction
MEP: Tekton consultancy

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