One myth about Laurie-Baker-model houses is that they have an optimum lifespan of just around five years. Here is one, designed by the visionary himself, which has completed 26 years and still looks and feels new. Spread over 2,200 square feet on three levels, including an “almost underground” bedroom, the house of Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) N. John Jacob at Kodunganoor in Thiruvananthapuram is one of the best examples of low-cost housing. The interior construction is such that money to be spent on furniture is saved. Sofa sets, a TV stand and even beds in some rooms are built into the structure. The “termite architecture” with inlets for fresh air and sunlight in all rooms keeps the mood pleasant through the day. Stained glass at the right places create coloured patterns in the living room. The roof varies with the room, right from conical to straight beams, to avoid the “boredom of looking up at the same roof in all rooms.” A small pond near the outhouse and simple landscaping all around complete the picture of a perfect retirement home.

TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHS: S.R. PRAVEEN