Location: Wayanad, Kerala
Design Firm: Earthitects
Site Area: 2462 sq. metres
Built-Up Area: 680 sq. metres
Principal Architect: George E. Ramapuram
Design Team: George E. Ramapuram, Irene Ann Koshy, Hetvi Kothwala, Pon Athithyan Muthurajan, Ginelle Gabriella Lopes, Likhitha Shivmay
Photography by: Earthitects
Designed by Bengaluru-based Earthitects, this home in Wayanad, Kerala reflects the firm’s belief in reverse urbanisation or a return to nature and one’s roots. This home is built around the existing natural topography with the intention of causing minimal disruption to the landscape, utilising reclaimed wood, timber from fallen trees and other responsibly sourced materials. “Every aspect of the home sings in harmony with nature, from materiality to ecological impact. Sustainability and innovation form the heart of the project. No fully grown trees are cut on the site of the estate, and the wooden poles used in construction are compensated for with replantation efforts from managed mills,” says George E. Ramapuram, principal architect of the firm.
The villa is spread across three levels with a total built-up area of 680 sq. metres, delicately and in synchrony with the existing hilly terrain of the site. The uppermost and middle levels carry the residential spaces, whereas the lowest level features an outdoor deck and an infinity pool that is surrounded by lily ponds. “Each distinct level steps down by 6 metres from the previous one such that one sees above and beyond the pinnacle of the succeeding level’s roof. Owing to the hilly context, the difference in contour levels needed innovative planning strategies to comprise a luxury villa’s functions.” explains Ramapuram.
The levels are connected by bridges that subtly blend into the natural surroundings. “The built form of the lodges is choreographed around the existing rocks, trees and site contours. Strategic voids puncture the masses and enable building ‘around’ nature rather than on it,” notes Ramapuram.
The entrance to the villa leads directly into the uppermost level which houses the living room, dining area, kitchen as well as a master bedroom. With wooden flooring, rubble walls, natural grey cobblestone pathways, and log rafters, the material palette adds to the rustic quality of the space. The ceiling uses whole wooden poles as rafters, instead of slats, adding to the rustic feel of the home.
In the living room, rubble walls made from rough, uncut and unpolished stones are juxtaposed against warm wood. With their naturally high thermal mass, the walls provide thermal insulation and help cut down on heating and cooling costs. Also showcased within the space are unique pieces from a bespoke furniture collection curated by Earthitects, utilising construction waste materials and championing local craftsmanship. “Conserving indigenous workmanship is symbolic of protecting cultural heritage, empowerment and encourages us to go back to our roots,’” says Ramapuram. The collection includes pieces such as the Allure armchair made from hand-picked wood and natural fabric, or Bole, a side table and floor lamp made from banana fibre and wood.
A desire to better connect indoor and outdoor spaces reflect throughout the villa. For instance, the outdoor bath is designed to serve as a sanctuary where one can shower beneath the open sky, and is set amidst a courtyard, lush foliage and natural boulders. Eucalyptus poles fixed to the ceiling of the shower area create the imagery of being under the shade of a tree. A black granite wash basin chiselled from natural rock, brass bathroom fixtures, and wooden cabinets with handcrafted knobs further complete the look. “The juxtaposition of brass, wood, and black granite is elegant and reminiscent of colours naturally found in the forest,” notes Ramapuram
The biophilic design language continues through the middle level which has a second living room and two bedrooms, as well as the lowest level which has a gazebo, outdoor dining area, in addition to the infinity pool and deck.
The gazebo is designed with a roof made of unfinished teak wood rafters and clay tiles, supported by four wooden poles and is framed by lily ponds. The outdoor dining space is crafted with stone slabs and offers spectacular views of the dense valley.
Story by Sridevi Nambiar