The Kovai Villa in Coimbatore is a beautiful, energy-efficient home whose open scheme ensures a constant communion with the hills that surround it.
Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, in spite of its size and commercial reputation, is a peaceful town that moves at an easy pace. The urban built environment here seems to have come up with great obedience to the diktat set down by nature. It is non-intrusive and placid, the roads are broad and accommodating, and the people have the calm demeanour so ubiquitous of folks raised in the company of hills.
In this ethereal setting has come up Kovai Villa, flanked by mountains. Mist from the hills kiss this house with loving regularity, and everything about the house has been planned to complement the green setting.
There are hardly any jarring flourishes of garish colours here. The form of the house is traditional and welcoming with a refreshing openness that encourages a constant communion with nature.
The design team of Sharukh Mistry, Sandeep U, and Vinoth Kannan B G, relied on a queerly articulate, but still open-to-inferences brief to get to work here – “where nature exhibits grandeur with its massive stone outcrops, the built footprints must be as light as possible.”
The ‘ask’ was for a contemporary home, but the underlining ethos was to engineer a nexus between the natural and the modern. The resultant structure is therefore a brilliant mix of an old courtyard style and the new minimalist approach. “The strong character and location of the site were the starting points of our design development,” admits the team.
Kovai Villa, apart from its hilly neighbourhood, overlooks the Dragon Eye Golf Course. That essentially means that, it has enough green cover to soak in day and night, all through the year. The even-toned façade of the house is mostly white, with hints of stone-accented walls accentuating the effect of a non-frilly house. The roofs pitch steeply downwards, typical of any abode in a place blessed with a generous rainfall.
The villa’s design leans strongly towards a healthy mix of earthy elements that defined most old South Indian homes.
A lap pool flanks one side of the compound; it is edged with a walkway on one end, which is then flanked by a flat bed of pebbles. Prim local plants are in abundance here, and they creep up the walls with protective fervour. From the get go, the feel is of entering an enclosure that is not quite that.
In terms of what materials were put to use, the team focused on “indigenous themes and details” and decided to employ a highly restrained scheme of copper, sweeps of polished wood, smatterings of steel, and strategically placed glass. The materials, like the highly dedicated labour force, were all local. The vast expanse of glass windows and doors, many framed by wood, indeed form the home’s style statement. Its substance is in the pristine white interiors. Adding to the effect of quiet elegance are the stone and glass butch works.
The green credentials of the home is attributed to the sensitive use of local materials, cost effective local craftsmanship, and the design scheme that quite literally seems to let the interiors breathe. The rooms here are flushed with natural light and air, bringing down the use of electricity substantially.
This marriage of smart design and looks distinguishes Kovai Villa, and makes it a highly energy-efficient home.
Kovai Villa named after Coimbatore’s traditional moniker makes a restrained but firm statement out of it. It shows that with careful planning, modern buildings can blend in, and compliment natural settings. Kovai Villa indeed treads lightly.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy Anand