October 25, 2013 06:04 pm | Updated 06:04 pm IST - chennai

Terracotta tiles that make up the arch at the entrance

Terracotta tiles that make up the arch at the entrance

To appreciate this house as it deserves to be, step inside the house at midday in the peak of summer. Its oxide floors and the rammed mud walls still feel cold against the skin, there is a pleasant and refreshing draft at any spot of the house you wander to, even its exposed brick terrace. Well, this house ‘Arulville’ is a tribute to the amazing functionality and climate-controlling ability of indigenous architecture.

Un-plastered rammed earth walls allow the house to breathe through its walls and keep the ambient temperature cool. Exposed brick walls with plenty of jaali work, an abundance of cross ventilation, and arched Madras terrace ceilings supported by re-usable concrete rafters, are some of the time-tested indigenous building technologies used here. The house revels in the natural colors of clay, with a few pigments added to the final clay wash.

Meanwhile, the arched entrance porch has been constructed of exposed bricks and terra cotta pots, while coconut fibre has been used as insulation between the two layers of the terracotta tile roof of the un-walled children’s play area. Use of old timber, antique pillars, filler slabs with used terracotta pans, terracotta titles, and Cudappah stones ensure that the house leaves a minimum carbon footprint.

Not one of the 60-plus trees on the site was cut during construction. The trees were simply walled around and topped by cudappah seats, to provide casual seating arrangements. Mud for the walls was excavated on-site, and such excavated pits have been converted into lily ponds and sites for grey water harvesting.

With its plentiful seating arrangements under trees and in the verandas (that serve as a building skin to keep the heat away from the interiors of the bungalow), convention room/large living area, private rooms, courtyard, sunk amphitheatre with stone seats and water bodies, Arulville strikes a balance between a rejuvenating getaway for families as well as a community space for events.

Arulville’s owner Anthony Raj shaped and executed new technologies and design for the house as construction went along, and was inspired enough along the way to establish the Centre for Indigenous Architecture. “Arulville is nature-positive, regenerative architecture at work”, says Anthony.




Anthony Raj


Centre for Indigenous Architecture

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