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Vernacular architecture for Kolam residence

Chennai-based architecture firm Centre for Vernacular Architecture Trust designed the Kolam residence in Chennai. Due to the increasing cultural absence and need for a calm environment, the client had asked for something fuss-free yet contemporary. In terms of innovation, the firm believed that vernacular detailing and the use of local South Indian influences would add a hint of nostalgia to the space. The structure was built using exposed brick and random rubble stone to promote connectivity to the client’s roots.

The entrance and waiting hall (thinnai) were designed in the traditional manner with a flight of stairs leading up to the main door. With most houses eliminating sit-out halls due to the lack of space, the thinnai again reflects long-forgotten traditions of a traditional Tamil house. Warli paintings can be found in the thinnai, the pooja room, and the compound wall, where the stones have been incorporated into the same. The flooring features granite and oxide flooring with refurbished wood, satin-finish Kota and terracotta as an environmentally-friendly alternative.

The waiting hall further opens out to the courtyard adjoining the dining space, which is a perfect setting for one’s morning coffee and newspaper sessions. A cast-iron spiral staircase is particularly highlighted, adding to the old-world charm of the place. The use of natural elements such as water, stone, and greenery imparts dynamism into the scene through the use of varying sun angles. Colors play a role in the structure as well, the use of colored glass on windows and doors give a beautiful accent to the brick walls. Bay windows and double-height spaces give an illusion of spaciousness, while the toilet walls have been made of slate with an oxide finish. Last but not the least, environmental sustainability has been taken care of with the use of water recycling and rainwater harvesting techniques along with the utilization of solar power.