Large windows and lush creepers can change the ambience of a house, writes K.A. Martin
The architect is not a building’s stylist or beautician. Instead, the architect finds ways to evolve a usable and sustainable structure employing his or her own language and idiom, says Sunil Anandashrami, chief architect at Aashrami Consultancy.
At his 2,800-sq.ft.-house by the Muttarpuzha, near Edappally in Kochi, the architect has used the elements of its structure to give the building its own individuality.
With its hollow columns and light GI sheet roofing, it is a lightweight building. The sloping roof merges the house with its surroundings and does not appear to jump on you as you drive into the lush green entrance.
The first thing that impresses you as you enter the house is its spaciousness, the effect achieved by avoiding enclosed spaces and using extra large windows. While the size of normal windows varies between 120x100 and 150x160, Mr. Sunil has used, in some places, 240x200 windows.
The large windows and a generous use of glass brings in natural light into the living spaces, especially the four bedrooms, from where one can have a splendid view of the Muttarpuzha. The daylight makes artificial lighting by day redundant, a large saving on energy.
The roofing of the house has been done with considerable sophistication with heat reduction and sound proofing layers fitted below the top-most GI sheet cover.
Mr. Sunil said he used a lot of pre-fabricated structure for the roof to save on construction cost and time. One of the ideas uppermost in his mind when designing a building is the cost. Finding ways to reduce the cost and time of construction is vital to sustainability.
Pre-fabricated steel sections allowed him to complete the roofing in less than a month, employing four people a day; the laying of the final layer of roof took just three to four days.
The cost factor
Labour is a key component of the cost of a building. The situation will only get more complicated in the future and reducing labour days is an element of sustainability, he said.
Another aspect of sustainability is reducing the building’s burden on the environment.
Mr. Sunil has not used any wood in the house. Synthetic wood and UPVC has replaced wood. These are recyclable materials too, which make them sit much lighter on the environment.
The house has also achieved a certain amount of natural cooling using creepers that run haywire over the pergola that shades a substantial private area behind the house with an abundant view of the river.
Creepers have been used over other parts of the house too to achieve the cooling effect.
Incorporation of water bodies in the layout has added to its natural beauty. In fact, a canal that runs on the eastern side of the house is a storm water trap that meets the watering need for the large garden that rings the house. The ambience is re-emphasised by the presence of the river, which also adds to the cooling effect.
Mr. Sunil said he believed in using traditional designs but employed new building materials so the structures gain their contemporary feel. He has built traditional awnings using steel struts in a project coming up near Perumbavoor. Use of overlapping roofs to allow air circulation help achieve a certain amount of natural cooling, he said.
Large windows and generous use of glass brings in natural light
Roofing has heat reduction and sound proofing layers
No wood used; synthetic wood and UPVC have replaced wood
Pre-fabricated structures helped complete roofing in a month
Creepers run haywire over pergola and other parts
New building materials employed to bring alive traditional designs