It is a house with mud-plastered interiors.The even brickwork outside and rustic look inside present simple elegance, writes K.A. MARTIN

Building a house is an introspective, philosophical journey of a lifetime. Through the travails and elation as every brick is laid, questions germane to the ideas of space and shelter and even about mundane bricks and concrete churn the mind.

How much space does a person need? How must one build a house? K.N. Shaji, traveller and journalist, confronted these questions in his pursuit of building a house.

An eco-friendly home was his quest. As the house slowly took shape, spreading over about 1,500 sq.ft at Vennala in Kochi, his patience was tested. But at the end of the struggle, he says, he is a serene man, the mind and body cool.

The mud-plastered interiors insulate his simple two-floor house from heat. But mud plastering requires expertise and is time-consuming. Finding workers to do it is difficult, Mr. Shaji says. But apply patience, and the dream becomes a reality.

The house has exposed brickwork in English bond outside. The even brickwork outside and the rustic look inside make simple elegance. The look and feel of the interior is matched by the Kota stone floor, which has kept the cost down.

The brick finish on the outside matches the surroundings, a village within the Kochi Corporation limits. Open spaces allow air and light into the house, making it lively.

The two floors are semi-independent with two bedrooms each. The layout ensures cross-ventilation to allow airflow to keep the insides fresh throughout the day.

Mr. Shaji, who has written on Laurie Baker and his cost-effective and energy-efficient buildings, says he deeply appreciates the great architect’s concepts, and his efforts are tuned to them.

Reflecting on the concept of space, he says the requirement varies from person to person and place to place.

A person living in the vast expanse of a village does not think about a house in the same way as a city-dweller should. The spiralling cost of space makes things complicated, he says.