Good design elements often become the inspiration for other creations. 'Chaman', the house owned and designed by architect Biju Balan became a model for many, particularly to software engineer Saji, whose house 'Yahvi', though not a carbon copy of Chaman, has incorporated many of its features.
What makes Chaman an eye candy is its aesthetically designed layout. The house, located at Malamparambil in Kozhikode, is a fine blend of brown earth, green environment and a perfect structural design.
The layout of Saji’s neighbouring plot is similar to that of Balan. One look at the elevation and Saji knew he had to have the same architect for his house. Yahvi is now grabbing eyeballs as the structure is a fine example of how a modest house can be built at a low cost on a mere 3.5 cents. Moreover, it has been built by using natural material as much as possible.
Several design elements have gone into creating Yahvi's exterior. One side of the car porch has a row of steel rods which support a well-laid vertical garden. A door from the porch provides direct access to the kitchen.
The exposed brick (chenkallu) work is the highlight of the exterior. What binds the stones together is a mix of earth and paste. The yard has been paved with fine gravel chips and a small pond with water lilies adds to the charm. The steps to the sit-out have been laid with Kadappa stone and the sit-out with Kota stone. The walls have been given a rough texture and it blends well with the surroundings.
The living space, which neatly sinks two feet into the ground, stands out. A built-in sofa in concrete is the highlight here and a spread of Kota stone makes for the seating. Wood from an old dismantled boat forms the top of the teapoy. Almost all the furniture has been done up with recycled wood.
The living space, the dining area and the walls surrounding them are all in exposed brick. A cement board, one-inch thick, has been provided for the living space ceiling.
The wash area bang opposite to the dining space can be called the beauty spot of the interior. This space has been converted into a mini courtyard and laid with pebbles. The washbasin, chipped out of granite, was brought directly from Bali.
The balcony too is in the form of a beautifully laid out courtyard.
Now for the bedrooms. The master bedroom has one of its walls paneled with areca wood. A long pebble-laid strip with plants growing in it is borders one side of the floor. The cross ventilation ensures a lot of air flow and brings in natural light too. The headboard of one of the bedrooms is again from boatwood. The children’s bedroom is colourful with bunkbeds and a well-done up study area.
While its ordinary granite for the dry areas of the bathrooms, the wet areas have been laid in flamed granite for good grip. The walls here have been paved with slate stone cladding. Pedestal fans provide the necessary breeze.
The lightweight stairway with its glass handrail heightens the beauty of the interior. There are no walls to cover the staircase landing; instead, a barrier with steel bars and toughened glass has bee raised and they bring in the light, while adding to the aesthetics.
Minimal use of cement all through helped to cut down cost. The roof has GI sheets without any concreting. But the insides have gypsum board false ceilings.
» A major cost-cutting contributor is the concrete-in built sofa in the living room.
» Since none of the rooms have ceiling fans, wiring was done away with and this again contributed to lowering costs.
» A long stretch of glass over the master bedroom wall brings in light aplenty. A small window here lets in fresh air.
» The frosted glass doors for bathrooms keep the moisture out.
» Space has been optimised as the rear wall of the house doubles up as the compound wall. But the back has been fortified with grill doors to ensure complete safety.
» One side of the guest bedroom wall has been done up with glass bricks that provide sufficient natural lighting.
» A balcony leading out of the kids’ room has been protected with grills to ensure safety. The balcony space doubles up as a laundry room where clothes can be dried and ironed.
» As a lot of building materials have been left in their natural texture, costly painting work was dispensed. The white walls are in reality gypsum plastering over which a coating of shell lime has been given.
» Lintels have also been a go-by as all the windows are of full length. Only the ceiling in the living room has been concreted.
» There’s a lot of plywood work on the wardrobes and in the dressing areas and its aluminium coating on the kitchen shelves.