A Unique Biophilic Home In The Outskirts Of Kochi Brings Nature Inside
- 10 Nov '23
- 6:21 pm by Pallavi Mehra
At first glimpse, this home on the outskirts of Kochi appears to be an extension of the paddy fields it is located amidst. Upon further investigation, you realise that it’s actually a house. Designed to be their home, architect Zarine Hoshang Jamshedji and her partner, construction veteran Cornelis Alan Beuke, have built this 4,300 sq ft bungalow that is one with nature. Known as the ‘Alarine Earth Home,’ the abode is encompassed by rubber and nutmeg plantations. It has been built on a sloping site overlooking a large paddy field. The bungalow offers its inhabitants, the couple, and their six dogs and two cats a unique indoor-outdoor, biophilic living experience. The home boasts a natural material palette and muted hues of brown, grey, and white. It features custom-designed furniture.
“We looked for a site that resonated with our desire of how and where we wanted to live. A vision of how we wanted to build emerged instantaneously from it. The desire to have a home that ‘blends in’ the true sense of the word into the land and landscape, not be intrusive, or block the expansive paddy field for our neighbours in the rear. Our home has sparked off a new real estate concept of ‘paddy view properties.’ Environmental harmony resonates through every aspect of architecture, interiors, and landscape design. It breaks away from the concept of a home hidden behind high gates and tall walls,” mentions Zarine, primary architect and founder of Zarine Jamshedji Architects.
One With Nature
From afar, visitors can see a road that seems to end at the paddy fields. Once visitors get closer and see a gate, the house becomes visible. Guests enter the property via a five-foot-high gate and walk down a meandering natural stone stairway that takes them to the entrance of the home. Unlike a conventional home, there is no main door. Guests enter below an array of solar panels, into a living, dining, and kitchen space in an open layout. The indoor living and dining space opens to the back patio features an outdoor dining section and a plunge pool and offers panoramic vistas of the awe-inspiring paddy fields. On the western side of the living room are two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. The bathrooms and walk-in wardrobe spaces lead to the back patio and the primary bedroom has direct access to the plunge pool. A well-framed, covered walkway leads to the eastern bedroom, which is semi-attached to the house with an enclosed bathroom and a courtyard.
Minimalistic and Functional
Alarine Earth Homes showcases Zarine Jamshedji Architects’ trademark design aesthetic. Zarine conceptualises spaces that exhibit a modernist thought in architecture, which is based upon new and innovative technologies of construction. In addition, these spaces prioritise form over aesthetics and embrace minimalism. This home is an excellent example of her design language. The bungalow’s interiors have been kept minimalist and functional so that the focus is on the spectacular natural landscape outside. The open living, dining, and kitchen area is also ideal for hosting and socialising.
Environmentally Friendly Abode
The home’s material palette includes natural materials that have been reclaimed and reused, as much as possible. The architects visited a laterite cutting workshop, requested the collection of the waste laterite paste from the workshop, and adapted it as the wall plaster render. The floor is sand-polished concrete that adds to the warm tones of the home. The dining table and open kitchen slabs are also handmade with sand-polished concrete, along with an exposed aggregate edge. Furthermore, reclaimed wood is used subtly for some of the furniture pieces.
Moreover, the start-to-finish construction time of the home was six months, including site clearing, construction, interiors, and landscape design. The architects used Stereogram’s (Innovative Building Technology) Schnell 3D panels for the construction. The panels were placed on-site, bound together, and spray-plastered. These panels have a very low carbon footprint. “The efficient combination of prefab and in-situ nature of the Schnell 3D panels added a boost to the construction speed. Alan’s ingenuity in designing the structure with Schnell panel has allowed for the 4m column-free cantilever in the verandah. It adds great value in being able to seamlessly enjoy the field ahead. Additionally, the insulative properties of the panel reduce the AC usage by 53%,” remarks Jamshedji.
The home provides the residents with an indoor-outdoor living experience. Every room is framed with green spaces on the outside. In addition, a standout element of the Alarine Earth Home is its distinctive roof, which has been covered with vetiver grass to mimic the paddy fields. “We wanted the architectural design of the home to merge into the surroundings. It was key that the landscaping selected didn’t look alien to the environment around. It took a while to find something that would merge with the paddy ‘aesthetic.’ The roof is planted with vetiver grass for both its properties and its aesthetics that mimic the field,” adds Zarine.
Alarine Earth Home leads the way and provides us with a new way to incorporate biophilic design principles in residential architecture and interiors.