“We had limited space, and it was this aspect that inspired us to take up this project” said Lijo and Reni Lijo, the architects of this unusual house in Nellikkunnu, Thrissur which belongs to Johnson Thottan and Valsa. No wonder, the 4.10 cent, elongated plot looks so bizarre for building a dream home.
On the west is a busy street and on the north is a private path which belongs to Johnson’s brother, whose house is on the eastern side. Another house is situated toward the south of the plot. The plot that was available for building the house was 6 meters wide with 16 long narrow strip of land. However, the architect couple did not hesitate to accept the challenge, and they carried it out with utmost perfection paying attention to the minutest details.
The first thing they did was to make a blueprint after dividing the plot into two – the bigger one that is 3.3 meters wide and the smaller portion that is 1.8 meters wide. The sit-out, foyer, staircase and kitchen were set in the 1.8 meter space, while the living room, dining space and the bedrooms were set in the larger area. For creating a separation between these two areas, they chose to apply two different paints instead of a wall.
It was not a good idea to design the courtyard and landscape towards the entrance of the house or on the sides due to the peculiar shape of the plot. Hence, they designed a landscaped skylight atrium in the middle, by joining the two side of the house. A staircase was also built at one side.
A ‘breathing wall’ was the solution to facilitate easy airflow. Numerous round holes were strewn all over the thin but sturdy walls, which allowed smooth flow of light and air.
‘Breathing wall’ was the most decisive feature of this home. Although, ferrocement panel was the initially choice, it was dropped later as it was not strong enough. Eventually, they decided to use a material called ‘corten steel’. The walls on either sides of the courtyard were built with corten steel sheets perforated with round holes of various sizes by CNC cutting according to preset design.
Corten steel sheets (with dimensions of two ft by four ft), that were 6 mm thick and of size was fixed on a steel frame. Corten steel, with dimensions of eight ft by four ft, had all the features required for a breathing wall. They are very appealing too.
The usual walls and doors were purposely avoided in the living space, courtyard, dining space and bedrooms on the ground floor. Wall to wall sliding glass doors, which are ideal for houses built in limited spaces, were designed. These kinds of doors make the house look more spacious. Large mirrors fixed at ‘strategic spots’ inside the house also add to the spacious feel.
Another factor that gives a spacious feel are the long LED strip lamps. Set inside, the cement plastering these lamps enhance the ‘space quality.’
Colors are judiciously used to beautify the interiors. The same principle is applied in choosing decorative articles inside the home. A lot of colors and decorations tend to distract us. In this home, the ‘space’ is the central attraction.
Every wall is embellished with paintings based on the ‘breathing wall’. Although they appear identical, these paintings, in fact, differ from each other. ‘Continuity’ is the theme of these paintings, which are also inherently related to this house. Likewise, the plants in each room of the house seem to celebrate a continuity of the courtyard’s green theme.
The design of the car porch is outstanding. Even though the porch has an open design built on steel frames, its roof, made of sturdy concrete slabs, gives it a majestic look.
As per the rule, the architects had ensured that there is a gap of one meter adjacent to the path leading to Johnson’s brother’s house. No wall is built on the left out space. This, in turn, created sufficient space to park six cars in a row.
Lijo Jose and Reny Lijo, the architects of the house, have won Gold Leaf and Silver Leaf awards in architecture and interior segments.