The house that looks like a hornbill that has sat down on the slope to rest and with outstretched wings looks out over the tea and coffee fields. This amazing object is situated in Tamil Nadu in Southern India. If looking at the above picture that resembles a little paradise on the Earth you think you would like to go there someday, luckily it is possible because this object serves as an agritourism hotel. 

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet1
The Hornbill House among the tea fields ©Vivek Muthuramalingam/ Biome Environmental Solutions

If you are not completely convinced of this design you should read this article.

One of the Nine Houses

This object was designed in 2010 by Chitra Vishwanath, Sharath Nayak & Anurag Tamhankar from Biome Environmental Solutions that is a design firm created in 2008 by Chitra Vishwanath Architects and Rainwater Club. This design group is focused on architecture, ecology, and water. 

The Oland Estate project when completed will have nine bungalows, each of them in a different style depending on its offer for the visitor. The Hornbill House is one of them situated on the old drying yard near the rocky waterfall, among the trees. The built-up area till now is 6500 square feet (600 square meters). 

The site that has 135 acres (55 hectares) will make it possible to locate buildings at considerable distances from each other and bring privacy for the guests. Till now, three of the buildings have been completed. 

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet2
Location of three completed buildings ©https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g297676-d1747939-i296345265-O_land_Plantation_Stay-Coonoor_The_Nilgiris_District_Tamil_Nadu.html

Designing Views

“The house opens onto the views of this waterfall, a valley with a backdrop of layers of mountains in different hues of blue of the sky, and green of the tea gardens, thereby integrating each of these views strategically from a different direction from within the house.” 

(Hornbill House, 2021)

The main concept of the designers was to choose the building areas based on the spectacular views. The estate had existing roads and footpaths, so the location of the nine buildings was chosen along the existing routes. Except for spectacular views of the plantation and the forest, the terraces allow for animal watchers to see a gaur, deer, wild boar, and hornbills.

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet3
View from the terrace of the Hornbill House ©Vivek Muthuramalingam/ Biome Environmental Solutions

Duality of Architecture

The Hornbill House is located on the hillside in such a way that on the north side the building cuts into the slope, while on the south it rises above the sloping terrain. This way of foundation allowed to obtain two characters of the building: a shaded, more private part of the house and the other one exposed to the sun and surroundings. 

The walls of the building also have two layersexternal made of stone and internal visually warmer that consist of mud bricks. The walls of the building, through its materials and colors, give the impression of blending into the surroundings which are underlined by the north wall that adheres to the rock face. 

An equally interesting element of the external form but with an opposite nature is the multiplane roofing, forming sharp angles which introduce an element of dynamism in contrast to the conservative walls. The larger area of the roof gives lightness and resembles the spread-out wings of a hornbill, the smaller area of the roof, facing south, resembles the bird’s beak.

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet4
The main entrance ©Vivek Muthuramalingam/ Biome Environmental Solutions

Ecological Aspects

Chitra Vishwanath is known for her ecological approach to energy and land-use in design, which she also showed on this project. The Hornbill House is determined as “zero debris”, which was possible to obtain by using local mud as the main construction material.  The use of domestic materials can drastically reduce the environmental impact of the building. 

The other ecological aspect of the project is the use of low VOC and nontoxic paints. During the use of the buildings, biomass water heaters and solar lighting are used. The technology of the walls led to achieving steady temperatures inside the building. Thanks to the use of proper materials and colors the building gives an expression of respect for the existing environment.

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet5
Ground Floor Plan ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet6
First Floor Plan ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet7
Section AA ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet8
Section HH ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet9
North Elevation ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet10
South Elevation ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet11
East Elevation ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions
Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet12
West Elevation ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions

Interior Planning

External stairs lead to the main entrance located from the southwest side. The visitors come in directly to the living room, on this level, there is also an external terrace. You have to go up half a story to reach the part of the house with the kitchen, west terrace with the view of the waterfall, bedroom, and toilet. The first floor contains the second bedroom with access to the terrace and bathroom, which can be accessed via internal single-flight stairs or an external spiral staircase. 

The sharp angles of the roof slopes mean that in the rooms inside, the ceilings are not parallel to the floors, but have the form of inclined intersecting planes, which gives the interior an interesting dynamic effect. All the rooms have a view of mountains, sky, and tea gardens with one of the elements dominating. Interiors are equipped with rustic timber furniture and colored textiles that despite the raw finish of floors and walls, they create a cozy atmosphere.

Hornbill House at Oland Estate by Chitra Vishwanath: End of the road property - Sheet13
The kitchen interior ©https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions

The project of Hornbill House by Chitra Vishwanath, Sharath Nayak & Anurag Tamhankar is an example of ecological well-designed architecture that expresses respect for the existing surroundings, both through the construction of the building and the applied technical solutions. 

This design success is based on the thinking true of the key ecological and social. Thanks to a commitment to sustainable living, designers managed to create a peaceful house integrated with nature where visitors can get a rest from city life and immerse themselves in the surrounding nature.

References

  1. Biome Environmental Solutions. Oland Estate [online]. Available at: https://www.biome-solutions.com/project/ [Accessed 27 March 2021].
  2. Architexturez Newsletters. Hornbill House [online]. Available at: https://architexturez.net/doc/az-cf-193074 [Accessed 27 March 2021].
  3. ArchDaily. Hornbill House / Biome Environmental Solutions [online]. https://www.archdaily.com/772255/hornbill-house-biome-environmental-solutions [Accessed 27 March 2021].
  4. Trip Advisor. HornBill House! [online]. Available at: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g297676-d1747939-i296345265-O_land_Plantation_Stay-Coonoor_The_Nilgiris_District_Tamil_Nadu.html [Accessed 27 March 2021].
Karolina Miekisz
Author

An architect from Poland who was educated also in Finland. Being at the beginning of her career she looks for a balance between architecture and nature. Despite the interest in the history of architecture she search for modern design solutions.

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