Biophilic architecture came to be as a respite from the visual exhaustion of concrete jungles. By providing direct access to and views of nature, and using building materials and features that both mimic and respect the surrounding ecosystem, architects started creating spaces that speak to our innate attraction to the natural environment. This year, Bangalore-based Earthscape Studio has completed their second project that embodies the same design principle in Kozhinjampara, Kerala.
The Wendy House takes shape as two sweeping twin vaulted forms, encased with a poured earth mud wall topped by a traditional mudga brick-tiled roof. With transparent inner walls, the vaults open out onto a serene, central courtyard holding a small body of water, infusing the internal spaces with abundant natural lighting and fostering a connection with nature.
The Wendy House was proposed to be built on a vast eight-acre forest-like land with lots of coconut trees, mango trees, nutmeg and teak. With nature as a priority, the architects anchored the farmhouse at a point where it wouldn't hinder the trees. Once they identified a place and position for the structure to be built, a grid was made, which guided the form of the building in accordance with the trees near it.
For the vault, Earthscape Studio revived the forgotten South Indian madras terrace roof technique. Shaping the roof, three layers of small bricks known as 'sithu kal' were produced by the local community of craftsmen who were once made redundant, bringing back their work for a circular process. For the fourth layer, broken waste tiles from local factories were reused and positioned to avoid expensive waterproofing chemicals. Like the mudga roofing, the vault is supported by a framework made of reused rods, which have further been used to construct the built in furniture fixtures alongside reused local wood.
This structure, with roof tiles, earthy finishes, natural stone and olden wooden elements, imparts the sense of a local village residence shaped by the experimentation of modern design. Sitting in the muddy terrain of Palakkad’s agricultural layers, the farmhouse camouflages into the earth, in colour and in structure as a minimal, eco-brutalist spectacle of biophilic architecture.
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