Size: 340 sq m
Principal Architects: Smruti Kamat, and Lester Rozario
Photography by: Niveditaa Gupta & Lester Rozario
Corbel House by Kamat & Rozario Architecture draws on traditional architecture to create a contemporary living experience firmly rooted in context. The design developed from the client brief, which was to have a modern house inspired by the family’s roots in Kerala, India. We looked toward the traditional palace construction of Kerala for inspiration. We noticed a few key features, such as the verandah wrapped around the living spaces, the heavy masonry base on the ground floor, thick arches and carved columns, and a first floor that appeared lighter in terms of materials and overall treatment. This became the inspiration for the front façade of the building.
Carved columns, a prominent element of traditional Kerala house architecture, were adopted with a contemporary twist. We fashioned them using a metal sheet cutout to match the silhouette of a traditional column and placed them as a cross. These columns frame the front of the house and sit on a large, continuous overhanging balcony. The overhang in the front not only protects the south façade but also allows for ample cross ventilation. Openings in the masonry are kept minimal to accentuate the openness in the front and rear. The undulating brickwork is a playful interpretation of a Mangalore tiled roof surface—another element seen extensively in the region. The form swells out to allow for openings and is constructed using the Flemish bond. As the brick gradually corbels outward, its negative imprint is seen on the inner side—almost as an acknowledgement of the drama outside!
Open planning has been implied, with public and semi-public spaces on the ground floor with guest bedrooms. Individual private spaces for the family with a separate family area are on the first floor. The main exercise in designing the layout plan as an outward-looking structure was to take full advantage of the views. A centrally located skylight over the staircase allows a mild draught of air by ventilating it at the upper level, aiding the movement of air. The two sides of the building show the strong presence of exposed brick masonry. The earthy terracotta colour makes a direct reference to the materiality of Kerala architecture in sharp contrast to the light metal balconies pushing through in the front and rear. The interior material palette is also inspired by the vernacular aesthetic. The combination of cane screens with teak wood is an attempt to add an element of nostalgia to an otherwise minimal interior. The continuous, almost monolithic granite floor helps further accentuate the open ground floor plan. The house is powered by solar panels placed on the roof of the structure.