Mini T and her family from Kerala built a two-storeyed mud and stone home with very little concrete to survive harsh summers.
When Thrissur born Mini T and her family approached an architect to build their dream house, their only demand was that the space should have enough natural lighting and ventilation.
Keeping this in mind, architect Shantilal designed a two-storey building with less use of concrete and an ample number of windows. The 1,620 square-feet house located in Moorkanad, is mostly made of mud, metal and red stone, and catches everyone’s attention with its elegance and unique design.
“It was months before the outbreak of the pandemic that we decided to build a home of our own to move from our ancestral house. We came to know about Shantilal, an architect popular for building eco-friendly houses, from a friend. We conveyed our idea of having a home with plenty of natural air and light circulation. And he came up with the plan pretty quick, but the lockdown put a spanner in our plans,” says Mini, a government employee.
The architect’s idea was to finish the construction using red stone. They minimised the use of concrete and used mud and lime to fix the stones instead. Mud, hog plum and jaggery mix were used for the remaining plastering. “We couldn’t avoid using concrete in certain areas like the bathroom. The staircase is made of wood and metal. Also, metal finish balconies were set in both the front and back of the first floor to invite more light,” says Shantilal.
The whole structure of the house is a combination of traditional and modern design. The balconies, windows and red stone finish pillars give the elegance of a traditional Kerala house while the metal staircase, wardrobe and flooring show the modern approach.
The walls made of red stone are not painted but are well-polished instead. The monochrome approach gives the house a rustic and classy look.
The furniture including the wardrobes, cots, doors and windows are made of wood. “Almost half of it was made from recycled wood collected from demolished houses that our architect contacted,” says Mini. Small patch windows are made above the actual windows to invite more light and air indoors.
The skylights and elliptical windows also allow for more natural light passage through the house. “Even during the summer, we don’t find it necessary to switch on the fans. During the daytime, no extra lights are used in the house. This saves us a good amount in electricity bills. Our two-month electricity bill was Rs 900,” says Mini.
Mini, her daughter, mother-in-law and brother-in-law love the sitting area on the landing of the staircase. It is a well-lit and comfy space, ideal for activities like reading or painting.
The house comprises a sit-out, dining hall, living room, kitchen, work area and two bedrooms with attached bathrooms on the ground floor. The second floor has two balconies, a multi-purpose hall and a bedroom.
“Our budget while beginning the construction of the house was Rs 20 lakh. As the price of building materials increased, it took a total of Rs 25 lakh to complete it. But this is a comparatively low budget for a three-bedroom house in Kerala. The construction was made on an 11-cent property we own, leaving a major portion of it to grow trees around the house,” shares Mini. “After a tiring day at work, getting back to the comfort of my house is all I can think of. In fact, everyone who visits our home praises its design and how cool it feels inside. All credit goes to Shantilal who came up with this brilliant plan.”
She also adds that it has become impossible to live in a concrete building without air conditioning. “Switching to eco-friendly alternatives like brick and mud, like olden times, is the only way to escape from this,” Mini says.
Edited by Yoshita Rao; Photo credits: Mini T