The Radhaakrishnan family wanted to build a first floor over their family’s ground floor home in Medavakkam. They were on a tight budget and approached the architects at Green Evolution for a cost-effective and green (wherever possible) project. “We had to work backwards and tried to use natural ventilation to reduce electricity bills. We’ve also tried to make some aesthetic enhancements wherever we could,” says Anupama Mohanram of Green Evolution.

Initially, the plan was to reproduce the ground floor plan upstairs as well, but when Anupama saw the property was south-facing, she decided she could use this to create more natural ventilation. “Since there was a car porch below, we used that space to make a balcony upstairs with some jaali work. Beside the open portico, we also gave them a wood-and-tile covered sit out,” she says. The roof has a few glass tiles to act as a skylight. The bedrooms were given high windows to let in lots of light and air and the roof was made of porotherm bricks and insulated, in order to deflect heat. “We did not plaster some walls, giving it a rustic feel,” says Anupama. Cuddappah stones were used for the staircases, foyer and covered portico, “We also used them to create wardrobe and kitchen shelves, like the good old days,” she adds.

Another balcony is north-facing, allowing circulation of air. “We used a lot of jaali patterns because it is economic and has aesthetic appeal. The idea was to blend the first floor with the ground and while we couldn’t do anything radical, we added a few elements that would allow the home to stand out.”