The Mannars' house in T. Nagar stands out for its sensible design and heat-deflecting materials

Architect: Sriram Ganapathi, KSM Consultants

Location: T. Nagar

No frills, please. This is a house that revels in the shapes created by sensible design.

And no drapes to cover and dress up its walls either; this is a house that stands secure in the beauty of its basic building material.

The Mannar house at T Nagar, owned by Vijaya and M.G. Venkatesh Mannar is an interesting house for many reasons.

“This is a quiet and cool retreat in the heart of a swelteringly hot city“, says Venkatesh Mannar, president, Micronutrient Initiative.

Fitting in between the house's living spaces are a number of tiny corridors that cut through the garden. The corridors serve to channel air through the house, and simultaneously create a design that keeps the various living spaces in the house in close proximity with the greenery in the garden.

The dining space steps down into the garden through a flight of steps, while the living space opens out into a large courtyard, made even more welcoming by a large, ancient swing. The house also has a sloping roof at its far end, and the huge ceiling space here has been used to carve out a cozy, mezzanine floor within that room.

Terracotta tiles embedded on the inner surface of this sloping roof creates both a design element and serves as a heat insulator.

And then of course, the house sports brick-made jack arches in the roof, in place of heat-absorbing reinforced concrete slabs, to keep the inner spaces cool. The upper surfaces of the roof space have been flattened over by using brick jelly, and heat-absorbing stuff such as cork and broken clay pots, and then paved over with Mangalore tiles. The inner surfaces have been partly plastered though, and the white tones used here contrast well with the earthy red hues of the un-plastered brickwork.

The sparse furniture that the house has been done up with enhances its spacious feel.