Project: The Breathing Wall Residence
Location: Nellikkunnu, Thrissur
Client: Mr. Johnson Thottan & Mrs.Valsa Johnson
Completion: December 2015
Architect: LIJO.RENY. architects, Thrissur, Kerala
Interiors: LIJO.RENY. architects
Landscape: LIJO.RENY. architects
Design team: Ar. Reny Lijo and Ar. Lijo Jos
Structures: Rosmey, Keystone Engineers
Photography Credits: Praveen Mohandas, Suneesh Suresh and LRa
Awards: IIA State Award – GOLD LEAF for Excellence in Architecture (Residences) (2015) and IIA State Award – SILVER LEAF for Excellence in Architecture (Interiors) (2015)
“It was difficult to know if it was day or night or for that matter rain or sunshine, while inside the client’s previous dingy home that stood on this site and they craved for a new lease of life!” – LIJO.RENY. architects
Boastful of a stark appearance, the robust exterior face of the house captures nature and a sense of openness, thus bringing out a delicate playfulness within. From a dark and dingy house to space of tranquil, the ‘Breathing wall residence’ truly embraces its surrounding charm.
Located in Thrissur, Kerala and seated on an elongated tight plot; the architects faced a challenge of designing a safe retreat in a surrounding that provided little opportunity for a house to breathe. The built mass occupied a mere 6 x 16 meters on a tight plot with an equally tight public road to the west, a private road on the north and two residential structures abutting its boundaries. In response to the site, great attention and thought went into creating meaningful functional spaces, all of which resulted in the house to grow in the vertical dimension.
Adhering to the site constraints, the triple storey home was planned along a linear axis divided into two east-west bays by a central ventilating volume, each of 3.3 meters and 1.8 meters. The triple height court became a significant aspect of the design along which functional spaces that wrap around in a possible logical order.
Inward looking and well illuminated, all areas remain well segregated yet connected, as the spaces peep into one another. The central volume opening as a landscaped sky lit atrium connecting both the east- west bays through a staircase block, thus creating the core of the design. The adjoining spaces are designed to overlook the atrium.
As one would enter within the living space, one notices the magnificence of the central core framed through the floor to ceiling length openings on the walls. This design trend is carried forward into upper levels which house the two bedrooms and a family lounge.
The bare white walls are further highlighted by a sense of rusticity evoked by the weathering Corten steel, instantly making the interiors more spacious and lit. The resonance between the built and the landscaped areas in and around the house instil a harmonious relation between the open and the mass.The geometric composition confluence with the circular fenestration used for the facades, elaborating the simplistic and innovative design approach followed by the architects.
The walls of the house which safeguard the internal spaces against the harsh tropical weather were perforated to allow light and ventilation to permeate within. Creating a porous yet secure skeleton for the home, the perforation on the wall form an array of pattern on the staircase, exuding warmth and life into the central court. Hence, aptly named as ‘The breathing wall’.
The design project in its entirety, was developed as a prototype for narrow plots. Irrespective of the site conditions and constraints, the project translates into an ensemble of harmony between functionality and aesthetics. Addressing a typical scenario, within our urban context , The breathing wall residence as a response to the stimulus of a tight plot, creates a meaningful example of a happy abode.
Based in Thrissu Kerela, LIJO.RENY.architects is a multiple award winning design studio, instrumental in influencing the way architecture is practiced and viewed in the state. Describing themselves to be ‘architects by profession’ and ‘artists by passion’, they try to strike a balance in the way of practicing architecture as art. Their constant need to redefine, experiment and learn has inspired them to develop interesting contemporary sensibilities in their design approach.
– Surabhi Verma, Volume Zero.