Trees, plants, hill view and the undulating terrain make this house in Kochi a green wonder, writes SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL.
The house sits on a beautifully landscaped sloping terrain near Edachira at Kakkanad. Mango and other fruit trees and coconut palms lend shade to the front courtyard. Potted plants and small granite pillars hosting orchids accentuate the verdure.
The front elevation is modest as entry through the granite wall boundary opens into a small driveway paved with granite stones interwoven with grass.
Opening into a scenic view, the living space exudes a resort-like feel as you view the hilltops from the French windows. The inviting green lawn on the balcony is the place to peer at the valley yonder. The house of V.R. Rajiven, former Additional Director General of Police, was designed by the late A.K. Jayachandran, architect, and executed by Purusothaman Nair, engineer. The difficult terrain was made into a setting that looks inwards and downwards. Without changing the layout of the 27-cent plot, the house opens to the road on the front and faces the valley at the rear, letting in the natural elements — the sun, the rain and the genteel wind.
On the entry floor, the expanse of the living area is broken in the middle by a skylight, beyond which is the dining area. It extends into the kitchen and pantry to one side, while two bedrooms are located on the side of the living space. The house expands into a floor that goes down through a curving wooden staircase underneath the skylight.
The stair-landing space functions as an open reading room that extends into the backyard. It has private rooms and a family living area on either side.
The backyard is a floor below, to which one can also walk down the side of the house through a beautifully developed sloping walkway made of granite stones interwoven with grass. It opens into a lush green lawn that has a lotus pond on one end and quite a few fruit and flower trees surrounding it. Orchids are arranged in an array stacked up almost on the entire side of the boundary wall, beyond which the valley steeps down. Sheela Rajiven, wife of Mr. Rajiven, has done the landscaping around the house and the interiors, including the furniture, with a professional touch. Her paintings and collection of artefacts give an artistic touch to the interiors.
Ms. Rajiven’s vegetable garden on the terrace provides the house with most of the daily needs for the dining table. She grows them in tyres, fibre rings, large sacks and pots.
A solar water-heating system, a biogas plant, an incinerator and a rainwater harvesting tank built underneath the front yard make the house go easy on energy consumption.