The design is simple yet refreshing. Ideas from traditional architecture have been used elegantly in the house, blending the magic of the old with modern concepts. Mr. Unnikrishnan’s idea was to have a house that was a little different from the usual, neither flamboyant nor contemporary. It had to blend with the local flavour of Chendamangalam, so steeped in Kerala’s history.

His brief to Rajasekharan Menon, architect, was to provide only the basic necessities of a house. He and his wife, Kunjan Garg, who did all the interiors, took over setting up the house when it came up to the floor level.

The whole idea of a congregation of the traditional and the modern evolved out of several sittings. The emphasis was on providing more open spaces and more natural lighting in the house that was to be built on the rectangle-shaped 15 cents of land.

Designing the 3,500-sq.ft house backwards from the roof gave a distinctly Kerala flavour. The inner areas were arranged to suit modern living spaces.

The verandas with spaciously laid-out granite benches interspersed with granite and wooden posts gave the elevation an earthy charm. The feel of the grey Kota stone tiles bordered with black granite set the tone of the house.

The main entrance of the house leads directly to the living space where the far side of the wall is lined with green creepers. The skylight brings in the sun into a green patch inside the house. The slanting roofs are lined to catch rainwater, and all the rainwater coming down the roof is harvested into the well.

The front yard has a car porch on one side and a lawn on the other. An entry from the car porch leads to a veranda inside the house, leading to the living area. A guest bedroom opens from this veranda. The living room in the middle is connected to all spaces in the house.

It directly leads to the dining space where the roof at the end was split for the light and rain to come in. The rain falls as a fountain into a decorated tub.

Most of the kitchen is open and not cluttered with cupboards. The main bedroom has its entry from the dining space. The wooden stairs from the dining area lead first to the mezzanine floor that overlooks the living space below. It opens into a small study on one end, and on the other end, it leads to another bedroom just above a few more steps.

A window from the mezzanine floor opening to the veranda leading to the car porch connects the upper floor with all parts of the house.

Mr. Rajasekharan says that they focussed mainly on the roof, splitting it at various levels giving it a cascading effect that brought in the classical Kerala architecture.

Steel was the main building material for roofing. Along with wooden frames with double-layered terracotta tiles, the air gap keeps the house cool. Concrete roofing was used only in bedrooms.

The clay-tile false-roofing became a unique feature all through the house. Furniture and décor gel with the tone of the house. Wood heavily used in the décor and building material has given an excellent finish to the house.

SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL