Project Name: Aaron’s courtyard
Practice: The Design Room
Excerpt: Aaron’s courtyard is an architectural project designed by The Design Room in Kerala, India. The vision was to design an energy-efficient house that would benefit from natural phenomena like cross ventilation, passive cooling and daylighting. Thereby, the plan and volume of the spaces were carefully worked out in order to improve the efficiency of the built spaces.
The 15-cent site with an existing house, a warehouse bounded by numerous fruit trees, is located only a kilometre away from Kollam beach, Kerala. Nestled in a quiet neighbourhood with a lush green landscape the client desired to have a house that seamlessly blends with the surroundings. Adjacency to the sea, coupled with the humid climatic conditions of the region, encouraged us to adhere to an open plan. The vision was to design an energy-efficient house that would benefit from natural phenomena like cross ventilation, passive cooling and daylighting. Thereby, the plan and volume of the spaces were carefully worked out in order to improve the efficiency of the built spaces.
A conscious study was undertaken to locate the built space without hampering the existing vegetation within the site. The idea of a large central courtyard emerged as a design solution to retain adult trees in the heart of the site. Subsequently, the proceeding-built spaces evolved around this central courtyard which served as the foci, thus enabling an uninterrupted flow of fresh air and a visual continuity to every other space within the house. Large openings and cross ventilation ensured a comfortable indoor environment. Appropriate details like perforated false walls and double volumes were incorporated on the south and west side of the house in order to craft thermally efficient and cooler interior spaces.
The interior layout of the rooms was meticulously designed for effective circulation and movement through the house. The design also complements the openness in plan and has a minimalistic style. Materials were carefully considered and selected based on local availability and its thermal effect on interior spaces. Laterite bricks from Kannur were used extensively with precise construction details, as a substitute for cladding on the exterior walls. The laterite blocks offer an interesting texture to the façade while the innate porosity of the material reduced heat transfer. Parasol roofs inclined at 12 degrees, were incorporated to bolster passive cooling of the interiors and as a structure that can conceal the solar panels installed on them. Aaron’s courtyard today runs entirely on sustainable energy generated from these roofs.
The landscape scheme for the residence acknowledges the existing vegetation and attempts to blur the boundaries of the built structure. The idea was to craft evocative niches which sit almost unseen and blend modestly with its immediate adjacencies. The plant list was consciously compiled in response to the growing conditions and the aesthetic requirements of the client. The transitory and seasonal variation in the landscape imparts enthusiasm and comfort to the built spaces.
A good design, in our thinking, is one that is socially relevant, environmentally conscious, emotionally resonant, and aesthetically pleasing. Aaron’s courtyard is a genuine attempt to inculcate design elements from a climate-responsive perspective and amalgamate quintessential regional techniques and local craftsmanship.