This Kozhikode Residence in Kerala, Does More With Less

  • 15 Apr '21
  • 7:39 pm by Beverly Pereira

The idea of ‘going green’ is so deeply entrenched in the modern lexicon that it is often misused as a performative retrofit and treated no more than a fad, rather than offering practical solutions to contemporary issues. The Lily Residence in the leafy locality of Areekkad in Kozhikode, Kerala, comes as a breather in these hyper-capitalistic times of brutal urbanity. Exemplary in the many ways that it adheres to the ‘less is more’ theory, the home designed by Kozhikode-based firm De Earth is the antithesis of a greenwashed offering.

The home for a family of three — a working couple and their young child — sits on a tiny plot of four cents, or 1,742.4 sq mt. A boundary wall that would otherwise ensure privacy from passers-by was given a miss for the ample ‘breathing space’ — a sizeable front yard and parking space — it affords. All that’s visible from the road is a completely perforated wooden façade — traditional jali — that not only imparts a sense of privacy to the family, but also serves as a stunning canvas for festive lights. “The home is designed as an entity that merges with the neighbourhood, creating a welcoming space at the entry and an element of curiosity on the façade,” says architect Nishan M of De Earth.

A perforated wooden façade offers privacy to the homeowners while bringing in natural light and ventilation. Photograph Credit: De Earth

By going vertical across three levels, the sensitively designed home seeks to neutralize the consequences of overbuilding. In line with the team’s key idea of building less, the floor area on the ground floor was restricted to the minimum. Here, the living, dining and kitchen share a single space in an open-plan layout for the family of three to intermingle without the need for much circulation. Not far, a guest bedroom and an entry deck that floats on a waterbody are easily accessible.

To offset the limited square footage at hand, the rest of the home continues to strike a balance between built and unbuilt spaces. The Lily Residence is oriented towards two sides with lush views of paddy fields; views from the other two sides that look out on to industrial activity are majorly restricted.

The entry foyer sits on an outdoor deck that seemingly floats atop an artificial waterbody Photograph Credit: De Earth

The first floor holds the master bedroom, while further upstairs, a private studio serves the creative needs of the working couple and doubles as a multifunctional recreational space. Both levels open out on to terrace gardens designed for vegetable and fish farming. “The entire design treats each space as an independent unit, and reduces circulation spaces. The two terrace gardens really allow the family to use the outdoors privately with the vegetable and flower gardens changed as per the season. Besides, the soil on the terrace creates insulation from heat during the summers,” Nishan explains.

Coconut wood, clay blocks and un-plastered cement are part of this earthy home’s incredibly eco-friendly material palette. Photograph Credit: De Earth
A conscious material palette informs the earthy, raw aesthetic of the home. Photograph Credit: De Earth

The use of conscious materials, carefully selected for their functionality and pared-down aesthetic, prevails across the home. Raised from the ground up, the structure utilises Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) to prevent waterlogging from the adjacent fields during the rains, while raw concrete takes care of the terrace gardens. The entire house, from the interior cladding to the façade, uses locally sourced coconut wood, while pieces of furniture were crafted from recycled wood. “The colour palette of this house is a truthful expression of the materials used. The colour as well as the texture of materials was exposed to stay connected with the simplicity of form. The exposed construction materials combined with the surrounding natural greens is what really creates the colour palette.”

The dining, kitchen and living areas share a single space in this breezy home. Photograph Credit: De Earth
The dining, kitchen and living areas share a single space in this breezy home. Photograph Credit: De Earth

The application of passive climatic design further contributes to the environmentally sustainable nature of this home. Oriented towards a grove of shaded trees in the west and the neighbouring building and bamboo garden to the south, the only part exposed to the heat is a staircase in the east. Forgoing the use of glass, the home relies on wooden jalis and openings to ensure continuous ventilation and passive cooling. With maximum openings placed towards the north-facing fields, the home gets ample breeze from northerly winds. Wooden shutters, perforated brick walls and un-plastered hollow clay blocks reduce heat intake during the day, permitting the residents of this home to stay comfortable without an air conditioner.

The Lily Residence celebrates light and darkness in equal measure. For one, sunlit rooms instantly transform into dark spaces just by closing the wooden shutters. Gradients of shadows also come into play as diffused natural lighting filters in through perforations. The home is minimalistic and rustic in the most honest manner and is an incredible example of the intelligent application of the bare essentials, without economising on comfort or luxury.