Calicut-based design firm, De Earth believes in building timeless and innovative spaces that blend with nature while preserving tradition.
‘Going Green’ has essentially become a way to live by especially since perils like Climate Change and Global Warming are looming closer than we realise. At such times, it becomes imperative to make a change.
And what better way to bring about change than to start from your home? Established in 2004, De Eearth specialises in eco-friendly designs through innovation, steeped in culture and tradition. Headed by Vivek P. P. and Nishan M, the Calicut (Kerala) based architectural and design firm recently completed an eco-friendly residential space, and suitably called it ‘A Timeless Way to Dwell’.
De Earth’s philosophy runs deeper than just building eco-friendly homes. ‘We believe in nature becoming an integral part of living, and building spaces that merge into the context.’ According to them, ‘nature is not restricted to aesthetics, but is closely knitted into the daily life and routine of people belonging to the space’.
Inspired by Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, De Earth’s designs are earthy, soulful and yet, understated. ‘Bawa’s representation of context, culture and nature friendliness through his simple, but thought provoking spaces are often mistaken as the creations of nature itself,’ and this is what De Earth has done with ‘A Timeless Way to Dwell’.
Belonging to Mr Yasir, from Calicut, the house is located in the residential district of the city. The uneven layout and shape of this plot make it rather unique, especially with the rear side of the plot having a difference of three metres in height. This difference proved advantageous, as it turned out to be a place for utility and storage areas, a vegetable garden, and a well.
Calicut is one of Kerala’s hottest cities, with temperatures soaring past 40 degrees Celsius during summers. This was a prime consideration for De Earth when they drew up design plans. With provisions for maximum cross ventilation, the house has a beautiful U-shaped courtyard. This is the main feature of the house, and is also perhaps the most beautifully designed.
A metal pergola, allows direct sunlight to enter. Adjacent to the courtyard, is a long verandah that separates the dining and living rooms from the bedrooms. We are left with an intimate setting, but without being completely disconnected from the rest of the house.
Since the house is designed on a slender build concept, every room is very well-ventilated. In order to avoid direct heat gain caused by sunlight, slope roofs serve well as protection and also render the overall structure and layout of the house aesthetically pleasing. Made of double layered clay roofing tiles, these overhang slopes are as low as 180 cm for a more private and intimate setting. Slopes at 40 degree angles are as tall as 4.5m and make the rooms look more spacious.
The double layer is what helps keeps the rooms insulated from the heat and the interlocked pattern of the tiles allow the hot air to pass through from the joints. This is an important feature of the house and has been specifically designed keeping Calicut climate and weather conditions in mind.
Additionally in place of cement, De Earth preferred the use of lime plaster as it helps maintain the temperature in the interiors. Negating an extensive use of artificial cooling, energy costs have been brought down substantially with these measures.
Mr Yasir had a simple brief for De Earth. He wanted his house to reflect the traditions and customs upheld and nurtured by his family. In lieu of his sentiment, De Earth used a lot of recycled wood for the flooring and interiors.
The exterior paving is made entirely out of recycled stone. The use of natural kota stone makes the interiors cosy and welcoming. Even the furniture, made out of recycled wood, is a reflection of the family’s simplicity. Passive and pastel colours, natural textures all characteristically define the house.
But perhaps what will leave you speechless is the simplistic décor, minus any kind of ostentation. Not only were building costs kept down with intelligent choices but also sustainability was always the primary driver in the scheme of things.
Keeping the client’s budgetary restrictions in mind, the challenge was to create meaningful spaces. “We restrained ourselves to creating spaces that spoke for themselves with some factual representation of textures and materials. The lime plaster, exposed country bricks, kota stones, old recycled wood, un-plastered ceiling, open kitchen cabinets, helped us reduce cost and created a true symphony of inherent textures and colours established by eco-friendly procedures.”
What De Earth has essentially done is transform a house into a longstanding legacy of tradition mixed with the need of the hour, which is creating sustainable spaces.
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Courtesy De Earth