This continuous progression has both positive and negative impacts on the overall character of the space. On the positive side, advancement means development and an iconic appeal whereas on the negative side, it could mean distancing from the traditions. Traditions in a home are closely related and dependent on the built environments. The way the four enclosing walls of a residence are designed, determines and affects the kind of lifestyle the people residing it would be able to cherish. For instance, a courtyard can instigate in people an urge to converse, or a well-designed porch can sometimes be the reason one enjoys reading with a cup of coffee in the evening. Most spaces are designed because we have specific activities to be accommodated within them and few spaces designed in a specific way give rise to new activities that become a part of what can be called as the new tradition.
An amalgamation of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern can be seen in the design of a residence named Earth Cube in Perumbavoor, India, designed by Ego Design Studio Kerala. The design concept originated from the Nalukettu typology (traditional architectural style of Kerala), since the clients had lived in a joint family in a traditional house, they wanted to cherish the same ambience of living around relatives, the same comfort of having large spaces to be able to accommodate family gatherings, which led to this reinterpreted version of vernacular architecture. A typical Nalukettu vernacular house has a central courtyard surrounded by spaces that are flexible in nature.
Earth cube has been designed on the same principles. Having a central courtyard provides the residents with an open multipurpose space along with contributing in maintaining the thermal comfort of the whole house in the humid equatorial tropic climate of Kerala. Planning of the house is done with sensitivity towards environment and in accordance with the requirements of the residents such as having seamless spiritual interiors and large rooms that can accommodate a sadya (family meeting), reduction in heat gain through provision of verandahs outside major windows and creating a continuous roof garden from the plants and soil that was excavated for the foundation of the earth cube itself.
The interiors have been done to suit the lifestyle and taste of the family, with large white spacious rooms that allow ample sunlight and open courts for natural ventilation, by using locally available materials, utilizing the top soil of the site on the roof garden the design of this residence is sensitive towards environment in all aspects. The internal environment stays within comfort limits without the use of any mechanical assistance for ventilation, pertaining to the health issues of the owners as well as making the design cost effective in the long run.
With innovations and a thought of nature in mind, even the simplest designs can be the reason for change, is what this hybrid structure tells us. The traditional Nalukettu house stays and breathes and in some inexplicable way, prospers in the courtyards of the contemporary earth cube.