Cloud House / NO Architects Designers and Social Artists
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Manufacturers: Duravit, Grohe, Vitra, Aluplast, Asian Paintings, Excel Manufacturers, Ramco, Schneider, tile source, face, Wipro Lights
Text description provided by the architects. The project is a weekend house on Lake Ashtamudi in the tropics. It is a sustainable house with a minimal footprint, which recycles various spaces, components and materials from a dilapidated structure, which existed on the site. The design maintains the traces of the existing house while adding new spatial volumes, meeting the functional requirements of the users. The site is located on the intermittent level of a terraced hill, sloping towards the shore of the lake, with access to the lower level. The site had several tropical trees, which have been retained and incorporated into the new intervention.
difference. According to Derrida, our thinking overlaps binary oppositions in language, which often leads to unjustified and unhelpful privileging of one thing over another with respect to these extremities. Privileging involves not seeing the merits and values of the so-called lesser part of the equation. Often, the crux of the problem lies in the in-between, called the zone of Difference, rather than in the limits. Architecture, like any other art, is torn between binary terms, which often leads to privileging. In this house, we try to create a typology of spaces in permanent oscillation, without favoring one over the other.
Built on nature. Grid on fluid. The inside on the outside. Light on the darkness. Rustic on Sublime. Conservation rather than creation. Sky above Earth. This house uses the extremities of the spatial vocabulary while leaving pockets of differance to mediate the sense of architecture. We believe that society is moving from the extremes of binary opposites, such as east and west, capitalist and communist, male and female, etc. to a more mature narration of the in-between, and our architecture represents this cultural transition and re-reading of the existing structures of society. After careful demolition and renovation of selected areas, the structural grid was extended and new walls were added along curved lines, saving the positions of existing trees. The result is fluid spaces that merge with the surrounding volumes and nature. The newly introduced curved walls are riddled with perforations, opening into pockets of Différance. The secondary façade that defines the architecture is openworked to “complete” these pockets.
A porch is given at first floor level, connected by a ramp opening onto the road, at the rear, which gives an additional entrance to the new house. The flowing curved volumes are connected by a floating roof, which rests on a layer of clerestory windows, supported by I-beams. Common spaces like the living room, dining room and kitchen are placed with the curved spaces , opening onto a terrace, with a view of the backwaters. A circular chamber is placed along these curves, with an additional bridge, along the edge of the water. The other bedroom follows a rectangular geometry, based on the imprint of the retained walls.
The exterior reflects the rustic rawness of the tropics, allowing built spaces to be camouflaged among flora. Strategically placed pockets of greenery enhance the tropical vibe. Hardy tropical plants have been selected based on foliage shape and textures, also ensuring minimal maintenance, for the landscape, as this is a weekend home. During the summers, the tropical fruit trees produce different varieties of mangoes, jackfruit, rose apple and many other berries, creating a nurturing forest and inviting birds and squirrels to this home. Global warming is real and it affects everything on the planet. Climate-conscious living is key to mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. This house with a small footprint of 123.67 m² is an attempt to reduce carbon footprint, waste of materials and over consumption of energy for sustenance. It also aims to create permeable built spaces, through an in-depth understanding of local winds, orientation and topography. The materiality and the breathability of the built volumes are considered as two distinct entities and treated accordingly, with respect for sustainability.
Cross ventilation, necessary for a comfortable microclimate, was minimal due to the streamlined profile of the site. The stairwell is strategically placed, to achieve breathability, and acts as a ventilation shaft, which collects hot air from the interiors and emits it through an elevator system, when the wind blows from the lakeside . It reverses its role as a gale, when the cool winds descend the slope, during the withdrawal of the monsoon, creating comfortable living conditions, in all seasons. The facade tiles were salvaged from the dilapidated structure and reused.
Crushed concrete chips from the demolished slabs were used in the columns of the exterior facade to reduce material waste. The polishing of the base layer of the flooring made it possible to avoid the use of tiles or natural stone. The horizontal members of the stairs were salvaged from the staircase of the old structure, and the car porch frames were recycled from a local junkyard. This experimental house has broadened our understanding of residential typologies, to include a multitude of possibilities, often questioning the existing, and being in a constant state of aporia.