Ar.George E. Ramapuram
Stone Lodges Private Residences, Wayanad
Why is this project special?
Every single action was taken during the journey of this project from its inception till today has set it apart from others – From the concept of ‘Reverse Urbanization to the detail of the smallest doorknob. This thoughtfully designed community allows one to experience the innate beauty of nature with every modern convenience at one’s beck and call.
1. Unique Design
The design of Stone Lodges is inspired by the grammar of Mountain Lodges and the native design aesthetic. The villas are hidden amongst dense foliage and designed with unique elements, keeping sustainability and innovation in mind. Every bit is finely nuanced bespeaking a luxurious yet environmentally responsible aesthetic – A Collectible that ages graciously!
2. Providing a Second Life.
The concept of Second Living is rooted in man’s need for balance – between the urban and the rural, between work and life. With the changes in lifestyle brought about by today’s work culture, this need for balance is manifesting itself in a longing for a man to reconnect with nature. We wanted to provide this ‘Second Life’ for our owners by the establishment of a Second Home at the lap of nature – A place to nurture hobbies like Photography, Organic Farming, Gardening, Birding and Trekking.
3. A Home that is ‘One with Nature.
We re-imagined the experience of everyday living by allying with Mother Earth in designing and creating dwellings that are in harmony with oneself and the natural environment, dwellings that facilitate ‘Natural Life’. Envisioned to intertwine with the natural slope of the mountains, the villas are designed “around nature, rather than on it”. Our journey has culminated in every space envisioned and crafted, thus achieving the truest form of spaces and blending seamlessly with the greatest design to exist – Nature.
When the building comes in the way of a tree or boulder, the design is modified to go around the existing tree or boulder and accommodate it to be a part of our natural design. Thus the existing flora and natural features on the site play their part in enhancing this carefully designed living experience.
4. Crafted with Natural materials
Staying true to our philosophy and keeping up with our eco-friendly ethos, the materials used in the villas are natural, with wooden flooring, random-rubble walls, cobblestone pathways, and log rafters, showcasing a joyous interplay of stone and wood. The wood used in crafting the space portrays its authenticity with ‘Live Edges’ accentuating the natural character of the wood. The floors, joinery, switchboards, skirting and furniture are handcrafted with live edge teak wood that adorns the spaces with warmth and grain. Rough, uncut and unpolished stone each with a character of its own, forms the thick random rubble walls of the lodges. Other natural materials portrayed in Stone Lodges are the clay roof tiles, eucalyptus poles in the ceiling, customized-finish granite for counters and stone deck floors.
5. A Story in every piece – Crafted in-house
Our skilled craftsmen, our team of passionate Carpenters, create and build our hand-crafted furniture and fixtures in-house. Each item at the villa is made at the property including the switchboards, joinery, kitchen counters, shower tray and cabinetry. All of this ensures that our items are unique to Earthitects and every piece conveys a unique story. The wood is intentionally left unfinished to really accentuate the live edge, and can thus be expected to age gracefully over time.
While most of the natural materials are sourced from the site itself, other materials are sourced locally to promote the nativity of Wayanad. And, to ensure no resource goes to waste, some boulders are cut to form random-rubble walls, while leftover teakwood goes into the making of fixtures and fittings.
Tell us something about your project?
Stone Lodges – Private Residences are spread across a forested hillside. Built on sloping land on the side of a mountain, they are inspired by the grammar of Mountain Lodges and the native design aesthetic.
With sheer simplicity and understated elegance, each villa intertwines harmoniously with the mountain on three distinct levels and blends seamlessly into the natural landscape. Staying true to our philosophy, the materials used are natural, with wooden flooring, random-rubble walls, cobblestone pathways, and log rafters.
Showcasing a joyous interplay of stone and wood, the villas are hidden amongst dense foliage and designed with unique elements, keeping sustainability and innovation in mind. Every bit is finely nuanced bespeaking a luxurious yet environmentally responsible aesthetic – A Collectible that ages graciously!
What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was to retain the natural character of the topography and features of the site with no spatial re-tailoring. When a tree or boulder came in the way of the building, the plan was modified to go around the existing tree or rock and accommodate it to be a part of our natural design ‘ensuring that no stone is turned’. The villas were designed “around nature, rather than on it”, such that the existing flora and natural features such as boulders, play their part in enhancing this carefully designed living experience. And even those boulders and trees that we couldn’t avoid doing away with were integrated with the interior design of each villa.
The challenge of designing a dwelling on a natural slope was the difference in the contour levels and how we would turn this into our biggest opportunity. We overcame this challenge by designing the villa on three distinct levels. The first and second levels house the spacious residence. Nestled amongst the luxuriance of the wilderness, the third level comprises the Exterior Deck with an infinity pool surrounded by lily ponds. Due to the levels, each deck has an endless, unobstructed view of the forest.
The challenge of building on a natural slope was taken as an advantage by achieving the best views of the forest and the surrounding mountains from every space in the home. We believe that “The larger the Challenge, the greater the Opportunity”. The challenge we faced, gave us an opportunity to design dwellings with spectacular tree-top views from every space.
What is the lesson you learned in this project that you would like to pass on to the next generation of architects?
The Existing “Living” Experience
In most urban settings today, the very basics of “living”, such as clean air, adequate water, waking up to birdsong, the joy of being able to taste a fruit fresh off the tree, or even the ability to experience a quiet moment, have started to become a scarcity.
Even the birds and the bees have started to leave us. Are they convinced, too, that our current urban-centric lifestyle is not “living” to the fullest?
The natural replenishing capacity of our Earth has been rendered ineffective in most of the current urban settings that we inhabit, due to their high densities of population.
Although, initially, our world’s modern, urban-centric lifestyles was a result of the creation of job opportunities in these areas, and consequently the creation of a better lifestyle or “living experience” for oneself. Slowly but steadily, this very same urban-centric lifestyle has led most of us humans to have “living experiences” that are substandard not only for us but also for the natural world around us.
We believe that Reverse Urbanisation or “living” away from Urban Settings is the “future of living/future of architecture” as, in today’s world, reverse urbanisation, if done right, has all the benefits of living in an urban setting without its disadvantages on our Earth. Through Reverse Urbanisation, we believe our world can achieve the experience of “Living life in its abundance”.
We believe that by living and working in non-Urban Settings (now accelerated by the post-pandemic world), we can re-establish the revealing experience of connecting with both oneself and the natural environment – a relationship that has been severed by our modern, urban-centric lifestyle.
With the advent of Ultra-High-speed Internet, the ability to now work from anywhere in the world and the abundant availability of conveniences for everyday living in remote locations as well, we, humans can live and work from anywhere in the world (Reverse Urbanization) and not necessarily in Urban settings that we have been inhabiting thus far.
We hope to pioneer, innovate, and inspire young architects to design spaces, keeping in mind the “living” concepts of the future with no impact on the environment. We hope this concept of re-imagining the experience of everyday living will inspire and encourage the young architects to follow this journey and design a sustainable lifestyle in every aspect.
Nature’s Materials are Timeless. Thus by designing with Natural materials we can help facilitate Timeless Design that doesn’t age also surround ourselves in a toxin-free environment. By designing and implementing sustainable landscape measures we can conserve and protect the native species of flora and fauna allowing them to co-exist with us as humans thus combating climate change and restoring the ecosystem.
It’s important that we leave the earth better than we found it. Our objective should always be to restore the environment and build a more sustainable future. With the abundance of nature in every step and a positive change in everyday living, the world would be a better place for us to thrive in.