The House Near the Meenachilar River
Edom Architects have reimagined a house to retain its original beauty, shining light into its traditional charm while celebrating the beatific nature around it. By Sindhu NairThere are few houses that remain ingrained in your memory for their design and for the associations with the family members. Tara’s residence is one such home. Nestled on the banks of the Meenachilar River in Kottayam, the house had an old-world-traditional charm about it. From the cobbled pathways to the wood accents, brass accessories, open floor plan with an eye-catching nadumuttam, the house was a treasure trove for my childhood fantasies. So, when I did hear about the renovation project, I was skeptical and almost ready to write off the change as superfluous.But much to my surprise, I found the renovation to be a celebration of the house as it was, accentuating its charm, almost like giving it a fresh coat of paint but with enough subtle changes that highlighted the beauty of its location while the design paid homage to its inherent qualities.
The client, Tara, and her family contacted EDOM Architects after they saw some of their finished work. Now the pressure was entirely on the new architects, Joseph T. Kallivayalil and Rose Thampy, the principal architects of Edom, to renovate an already beautiful house in a way that respected the earlier design while giving way to some of their signature touches to make the house much more than what it was, but subtly enough.
“This is a special project for us; because the house and the site were already beautiful. The plan was good and the spaces were arranged well,” says Jose as they took on the challenge, “There were many limitations and we have tried to work our way around it. The clients were staunch believers of Vastu and hence there were many changes that could not be executed, but we are happy with the final products as are the clients.”
The house had an open plan with the nadumuttam being the focal point of the residence. The architects felt that the riverside was not being properly utilised or focussed on in the earlier design, and thus, they went about creating the new focal point for the house, which was the beautiful scenic river flowing by.
“We broke down walls, made a few openings larger and created more openings where needed and thereby shifted the focal point to the river. The living room and the study was moved from their original plan to a position to maximise the river view. In a way the river became a part of the house,” says Rose.
The clients wanted to retain the nadumuttam with its initial vantage position or perhaps add to its utility and the architects managed to get the essence of the house by subtly putting more focus on the views from this vantage point, connecting the house through open spaces and clear sights to the most scenic views.
Materials that blended with the earlier finishes were chosen; natural stones for the flooring, teak wood for the wooden elements, and a modern kitchen with additional facilities and utility spaces were added.
“The island kitchen that was added to the kitchen and the added space utilisation are some of the add-ons that we love about the new design,” say the clients.
The landscape was seamlessly connected to the interiors, without overpowering the play of spaces outside but with a gentle nod at the beauty of the surroundings and the traditional exteriors of the house.
The renovation of Tara’s residence is a perfect ode to John Pawson’s quote, “Sometimes architecture is just not about creating new buildings but it is about returning what’s already there…”
Joseph and Rose, the principal architects along with their team of designers have created something special, by doing just enough and not more, so as to maintain the earlier brilliance of this beautiful riverside home.
Tara Residence, Kottayam
Built-up Area: 4000 sqft
Completion year: 2019
Architects: Edom Architects @edomarchitects
Principal Architects: Joseph T. Kallivayalil and Rose Thampy
Photographs: Turtle Arts