The linearity of the plot in the north-south direction sparked off the design of this airy house that largely relies on its own architectural design to stay cool. Srikanth and Gita's home on the ECR is designed like a traditional Agraharam house that has living spaces branching off from a central spine or corridor. The corridor is shaped as a Katrupandhal or wind pavilion that funnels air from the outside, increases the wind’s ambient velocity by its tapering height, and thus blows a constant gust of cool air into the house without consumption of energy. “This has been tested by hand held anemometers and the results indicate that the wind velocities within the house increase to a maximum of two and half times”, says Sriram Ganapathi, KSM Architecture. Besides, the corridor doubles up as a gallery space to host photographs for Srikanth who is an avid photographer.

Cladding with hollow clay bricks all around the house, a skin of woven cement boards that cuts the heat and lets in wind through the gaps within its weave, and a concrete roof treated with stabilised polyurethane foam panels further insulates the house from heat gain. Automated levers are built into the walls of the house allowing for the entire house to welcome in more natural breeze at the flick of a button. Meanwhile, within the house, open-to-sky courtyards with live green patches and trees alternate between the living spaces. The living spaces themselves can be thrown open to merge with these courtyards by wall-to-wall sliding glass doors and collapsible aluminium panels. “Every living space within the house can be opened up to nature,” says Srikanth.

The house also uses the plot’s gradient and the gradient of its roofs to channel rain water into a closed harvesting pit, around which semi circular seating arrangement has been created, making for a charming amphitheatre to relax in. Meanwhile the backyard of the house has been devoted to vegetable and fruit gardening, and the family has gone in for a fantastic assortment of indigenous fruit trees, herbs and vegetable yielding plants. This is a house that makes excellent use of the best of traditional design as well as modern material and automation technology.

Location

Neelankarai

Open-to-sky courtyards

funnel effect brings cool air

retractable glass doors

Owner

Srikanth and Gita

Architect

KSM Architecture

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