Driving through winding narrow roads in district in Kerala, brings us to the site overlooking lush rubber plantation, which is abundantly grown in and around gradual slopes, camouflaging the house from plain view.

Project Name: The Skew House
Studio Name: Thought parallels
Location: India
Year: 2018

©️Thought parallels

Spread over an acre of land is the house which has a modern tropical design amalgamated with traditional architecture. The design of the house utilizes the extents of the plot exceedingly well by having a spread out planning.  The Design accommodates the brief of the Family which was to create distinctive guest and family spaces. This clearly leads to the formation of two blocks a guest and family connected with each other by a semi-private living.

The guest block houses a guest living, a prayer room and a guest bedroom arranged in a linear form. The presence of the prayer room prompted the architect to align the block along the traditional direction of pray, thus creating a tilt and breaking the initial parallel axis between the two blocks, hence deriving the name “THE SKEW HOUSE”.

Views of the minimalistic horticulture combining both hard and soft paving around the house from every room is another dimension added to the design. Rooms are well lit and aerated with large open spaces around.  The subtle slope of the traditional styled Mangalore tile roof makes the entrance verandah and inner spaces well proportioned in terms of height. The connecting semi-private living is a cozy space with doorways leading into the landscape on either side.

©️Thought parallels

On entering the family block through the connecting semi-private living, one is welcomed by a large living and dining. The linear arrangement of spaces continues with the placing of the staircase followed by 2 bedrooms on one side and a kitchen and other utility spaces on the opposite end.  The linearity in the arrangement of spaces brings in natural illumination and ventilation.

Wooden, steel, and exposed concrete, open riser staircase leads upwards to the first floor. An element by itself, the staircase has a steel railing with a traditional wood carving pattern cut into it which is a subtle but impactful addition.  Located on the first floor are 2 bedrooms and a linear pool. The south-facing facade of the bedroom and corridor leading to the bedrooms have been adorned by louvered open able shutters to keep out the harsh glare and heat from the south but creating a dramatic play of light all along the corridor and bedroom floor and walls.

The use of traditional Mangalore roof tile roof along with an inner lining of plywood helps in insulating the rooms from the harsh summer heat. The material pallet has been kept very minimal with steel, wood and exposed concrete as the primary materials. Few elements such as exposed clay brick walls and natural mosaic marble flooring add value to the quality of spaces.

©️Thought parallels

What was the client’s brief?

The brief was articulate. A five-bedroom house with defined spaces for the family and guests. However, being located in over an acre of land, the client also wanted the house to be luxurious, a house in which to rest, spend the holidays, receive family and friends.

What was your initial design approach?

The initial approach was to study the site, to understand the client better and his lifestyle. The site is located in between the mountains of malapuram enabling the house free from using any air conditioning by letting the breeze into the house. This led us to settle on the possibility of  a  modern tropical design amalgamated with traditional architecture, The design accommodates the brief of the family which was to create distinctive guest and family spaces. This clearly leads to the formation of two blocks a guest and a family area that are connected with each other by a semi-private living. We wanted maximum use of natural light during the day, the lighting design is mainly composed of indirect lighting.

Briefly explain the zoning of the space.

The need for clearly separate private and guest spaces was the basis of our planning. So, we designed it as two buildings, a private block and a formal/guest bloc, connected by a wide foyer that became a semi-formal space in itself. The pathways from the gate can lead one to the formal bloc, or separately, to the private bloc directly. The greenery between the blocs grow into subtle but effective spatial separators.

©️Thought parallels

There’s a linear arrangement on spaces in either bloc, which ensures ample light and air for every room. Entering from a wide verandah, the guest bloc is divided on either side of a passage, the living room on one, and the prayer hall and guest bedroom on the other. The passage leads to the ‘bridge’ or wide foyer with a cozy semi-formal living space that leads further to the private bloc.

With a wide door that can close the entire bloc off when needed, the private zone has two poles of activity: two bedrooms on the western end, and kitchen and utilities on the eastern end, flanking a rather large living and dining space in the centre, that lead in from the foyer bridging the two blocs. Two more bedrooms and an access-controlled, open swimming pool rest on above this space. On the whole, the house is like a hand stretched out in the landscape with fingers splayed apart, letting air, light and people flow between them.


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