The car horn is a nuisance to the otherwise quiet dawn in this peaceful countryside situated close to Shivamogga town in Karnataka District. Shivamogga was derived from ‘Shiv Mukh’ meaning Lord Shiva’s countenance.
The place that we were heading to is called Sagar and it is situated 7 km away from the town.
All while long, we keep wondering why the contemporary artist couple Srinivasa Prasad and Ranjini chose this place to build their new home.
But our queries were answered upon reaching the scenic spot by the bank of River Tunga. The house was vaguely visible due to the thick blanket of mist enveloping it.
Set in the middle of a 5-acre plot, ‘Kuhuku’ stands like a dream before our eyes.
House is situated in a typical village. The usual and first request to their architect from anyone building a new house is that the house should be unique and unlike the other houses in the neighborhood.
But Srinivasa Prasad had a different mentality. He didn’t want his house to look entirely different from other houses in his new surroundings. He wanted it to be one among them. Like Kerala, Shivamogga receives rainfall in abundance. Most of the houses here have a slanting roof. Hence, it was decided to have a similar style for the roof for artists' house as well.
An Iron truss was built. Mangalore roof tiles were laid on this truss. Inside this, there is a layer of ceiling tiles. The double height ceiling ensures cool temperatures in the interiors even during summer. The exterior design is a clever play of aesthetics. When most of the houses seem to appeal only from the front angle, this house is different in that respect. 'Kuhuku' is a treat for the eyes from every angle. The structure of the house is built with Laterite blocks. These stones are widely available in the area and so the building costs could be controlled to some extent.
There wasn’t any shortage of skilled labor for the construction as well. A major portion of the house follows an East facing plan. There is a long veranda. One can enjoy the scenic surroundings from the veranda. All the windows in the house open to green vistas. The front courtyard has been left untouched in its natural state without any flashy designer tiles. This adds to the ethnicity of the house.
Open style layout plans for houses is nothing new these days. But this concept has been given a magical touch in the ‘Kuhuku’ house. Here space is where the flow from one to another is easy and effortless. Doors and walls appear only where it is essential.
The lifestyle of this 4-member family has in some way or the other influenced such a plan. There isn’t a constant inflow of visitors to the house. Therefore, privacy wasn’t a major concern. All rooms belong to everyone. The highlight in the interiors is no doubt the smart usage of space. The spacious veranda leads you into the house. The kitchen, living and dining area lie interconnected, as if they were part of the beautiful open plan.
For this section the outer walls have glass windows. The flooring is entirely done with Terracotta tiles. There are two Mezzanine floors in the house. The stairs near the dining space leads to one such floor. This is used as the children’s study cum bedroom. The second Mezzanine floor is above the guest bedroom. A small balcony has been added to this part. There is a small deck over the utility space. All the cupboards, tables and cabinets are made of wood. The furniture is mostly a combination of wood and bamboo. The open bathroom is another special feature in this house.
With a pebble floor and colored glass for the door, the open bathroom is a pretty addition. The highlight here is the curved wall. There are two bedrooms. The master bedroom stands separate from the rest of the rooms in the house. At Kuhuku, you won’t find any decor elements found in typical modern homes like wall cladding, false ceiling, concealed lighting or highlighter wall. Even the walls are not painted with bright colours.
Kuhuku is a minimalist house in all aspects. Srinivasa Prasad did an installation called ‘Cocoon’ that was featured in the first season of Kochi Biennale. The guests to the event were welcome to leave all thier negative feelings and thoughts inside the ‘Cocoon’.
In a way ‘Kuhuku’ is also a cocoon of sorts. A place that can erase and dispel all negativity from the mind of the visitor.
Sijo Cyriac runs the Little River Architects firm based in Bengaluru. He had completed his B.Arch from the Mysore University. He has won national awards in the field of Sustainable Architecture.
Do you like homes that are close to nature?
I do not impose my likes or preferences on any project. The client’s requirements, whether the setting is rural or urban, the surroundings etc. are factors considered to finalize on a design. But my opinion is that, there should be some scope and space for nature in every home. As we are all a small part of nature itself.
Your client was an artist. Did that aspect help you in anyway?
Clients that are demanding are always welcome. When you leave the design of your home entirely to the architect, it is often a failure. The house should reflect the personality of the owner. Here the owner did not want a home that stood apart from its natural surroundings. That’s why we were able to complete the house by imbibing the essence of the environment around. Different families have different lifestyles. The family wanted a space where their creative instincts could be awakened, where creativity could flow effortlessly. The ethnic spirit had to be maintained even while modern elements were incorporated. This was the challenge with Kuhuku.
Project Facts Area: 2500 sq.ft.
Architect: Sijo Cyriac Little River Architects Bengaluru
Owner: Srinivasa Prasad & Ranjini Shettar