Box House: Scandinavian Art and Kerala Craft

“A Clean, Well-lighted Place”, the title of a Hemingway story sits well with this Box House erected by the Design Firm, Uru Consulting. This unembellished house that is home to sunlight and the cool breeze of Elanji tree, is situated near the International Airport, Calicut. Uru offers the perfect design for the Box House, a plain canvas open to the improvisations of the client with artistic sensibilities.

Project Name: The Box House
Architecture Firm: Uru Consulting
Completion Year: 2019
Gross Built Area: 5400 sq ft
Project location: Near Calicut Airport, Malappuram, Kerala, India
Lead Architects: Safder machilakath
Photo credits: Prasath Mohan and Insaf Palayil

©️Prasath Mohan

Bauhaus Design and Minimalism: Arts and Crafts for Function

Minimalism finds its manifestation through the Bauhaus design- combining Arts and Crafts- a rare blend of aesthetic refinement and mundanity. This Scandinavian architectural design stands out for its harmoniously balanced geometric shapes, deep-rooted in one word: function. This is the crux of the Box House. Beyond its function, the Scandinavian elegance in the backdrop of the enchanting green fields of Kerala, is indeed a sight to behold.

Going Local is the New Global: A Lesson on Sustainability

Team Uru has committed itself to the paradigm of sustainability as the chief driving force of its design purposes. It cannot be happier when it gets to work with clients with the same vision. The international structure of the Box house, situated amidst the lush green of a rice field with coconut trees along the borders that brings to life a picture-perfect village of Kerala, goes local in its choice of the materials used for construction. Every material from clay tiles of  Feroke as jally, Indian white marble for the floors, laterite stones on the front yard, buffalo grass landscaping, to the planting of the tropical plants like Elanji and Parijatham, and Mandaram were locally available that goes with the motto “going local is the new global” and contributes greatly to the vision of sustainability. Even the coconut trees in the plot were included in the plan so that they will go undisturbed despite the construction of the house. The plot contained a more than 100-year-old pond, which, according to the suggestion of Team Uru was reconstructed and conserved, serving both as a function, a major water resource, maintaining the ecological balance and as a form of poetic beauty, a pool.

©️Prasath Mohan

Box House with a Futuristic Vision: Energy-Saving for the Generations to Come

With the construction of a house that is empowered with Solar power, Team Uru and its client walk one more step towards preserving energy for future. This Solar powered house hardly needs electricity for light or fan during the daytime, as the plan has given room for natural light and wind in abundance. Their eco-consciousness is further revealed in the rain water harvesting system, including the pond and the laterite tiles which do not hinder the rain water from being absorbed into the soil. As a smart waste management tool, a biogas plant also subscribes to their dedication towards energy preservation.

South-West Wind: Tackling the Challenges

The plan challenged Team Uru from the aspect of satisfying the client’s need for a better view of the rice field, facing South West, and preparing the house for being resistant to the South West wind and the heat. The overhangs were devised into broader sunshades to shield the house from the scorching sun, the South West wind and the Monsoon. The usage of the cavity walls (double layered wall with a hollow in between) was another strategy. The magic of the house being cool and still a well-lighted place owes greatly to the trellis.

©️Insaf Palayil

Hues and Scents of the Earth: A Demure Beauty

The colour palate of the Box House belongs to the hues and scents of Mother Earth. Colours of mud, foliage, brick and stone give the natural shades of green, white, black, and laterite turn the Box House into a demure, earthy beauty.

Beyond the Demure Beauty: The Strength that Survived two Floods

The new criterion for choosing to buy or build a house in Kerala has been this: It should survive a natural calamity, and more specifically, a flood. During the construction time of the Box House, Kerala had faced and survived two floods, consecutively in 2018 and 2019, first of which alarmed Team Uru to plan a more scientifically guarded landscaping in the plot. They can claim proudly that the intelligent landscaping has protected the Box House from the second flood as well.

©️Insaf Palayil

A Home of Unreserved Happiness

The perception of privacy in the living rooms had to be balanced with the client’s idea of an open house with lesser walls and more light and wind. The unique Scandinavian design has given no space in the house that misses the great view of the rice field from multiple levels, right from the sunken living room, through each step in the stairs, the mezzanine floor, to the recreational space in the balcony, adjacent to the Home theater as MTS. Like the unhindered openness into the view, the plan also makes sure that the interaction of the members of the family further extended through the central point of the house that is the connection point between the dining area, the courtyard, and the stairs. This particular space enables interconnectedness between all the other spaces like the kitchen, the two bedrooms in the ground floor, to the upstairs and outside as well. This brings strong ties of intimacy within the family as well as it makes a more welcoming house for guests. The Box House indeed is a home of unreserved happiness. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is not only about the physical space of the Box House, but also about the psyche of the people who make a place like this possible.

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