This seemingly unassuming house in Kerala designed by Mumbai-based Studio Tab is nestled between a dense cover of palm trees and the scenic backwaters.
Architect Rahul Das Menon, c0-founder, Studio TAB paints an idyllic picture of the house as he says, “Never before had a pocket sized plot felt so larger than life. Here time seems to pause and takes one back to an era gone by. Local fishermen sail by in their wooden canoes selling their fresh catch from the sea, the summer breeze coaxing a gentle psithurism that lulls one into a nap and the seagulls squawking as they glide over the backwaters all day long. This seemed like a different world the very first time we visited the site and each time thereafter.”
From the outside, it seems like any other home in Kerala — large, with an adjoining tree-filled plot, a mix of rustic and contemporary — a formula that never fails. But it’s only once you are inside, that you unravel its complex nature and intricate planning. “The project commissioned to us had layers of expectations. From that of a holiday home for the globetrotting client to a home where his septuagenarian parents could have an enriched retired life. With a brief so clear and a context so strong, ideating a design concept couldn’t ever have been easier,” says Ojas Chaudhari, Principal Architect and co-founder of Studio Tab. The home is split over two levels, the facade, split over two levels is modest yet welcoming. Perhaps this was intentional — responding to a layered site with a non-intrusive design. Architecture that blends own humbly with the context, rather than stand out audaciously. “All throughout the project timeline, we ensured that we respected the context where we are building,” explains Menon.
The material palette — laterite bricks sourced from dilapidated buildings, repurposed furniture, handmade clay tiles — is simple, yet manages to create a complex, tactile narrative. “We spent a lot of time studying the context, and the climate. The intent was to reduce the dependency on artificial thermal comfort, studying and working with local materials,” explains Menon. The architects worked with local craftsmen to understand, build and create using traditional techniques. “It’s an honest effort in translating the client’s idea of home into reality.”
Inside, the double-height living room is impressive in its scale and countenance. Most of the furniture is repurposed, either from finds from other homes in the vicinity, or the clients’ own. For instance, the centre table is, in fact, a cradle which has been upcycled. Cane and teak dominate the material palette for the furniture.
The bedrooms follow the same design narrative. Teak and cane make ample appearances here as well. The decor is kept minimal and unpretentious. Here, the beauty lies in the choice of materials, the amalgamation of traditional techniques in a contemporary narrative, and the subtle, deft detailing.