Laya Joshua, a social worker and naturopathy expert from Ranni town in the Pathanamthitta district, Kerala, wanted a house that was close to nature.
Today, the 2,700 sq ft house, located amid lush green surroundings, looks — in Laya’s words, “simple and rooted in nature”.
The house is largely made of boulders, forest stones and roof tiles, and the wood used is mostly old or repurposed from demolished houses.
Joseph Mathew, the architect, says the house was built completely within eight months from the beginning of its construction in 2013.
“I preserved stones of different sizes from our compound and farmland, hoping they would come in handy at some point,” Laya says. The stones were used to build the house walls.
The top floor has been mostly built using stacked roof tiles glued together using cement — an eco-friendly method that Joseph uses.
“Walls made of roof tiles are thicker, provide insulation, and, at the same time, keep the house cooler,” he explains, adding that around 50% of the house has been built using roof tiles.
“We have also used the filler slab technique on the ceiling of the first floor, where we used roof tiles in between the concrete, thereby reducing the concrete volume and providing better thermal insulation,” he explains.
“We haven’t bought any new furniture, we reused and repurposed old and broken furniture from our ancestral home,” says Laya.
“There is a small vertical window called kili-vaathil facing the corridor, from where people inside the house can view the front yard. It was inspired by traditional Kerala houses,” she says.
The flooring has been done using traditional terracotta tiles in most parts of the house except for the corridor, which was done using oxide. This was later replaced with tiles.
“We had to spend around Rs 20 lakh including the interiors which is comparatively low-budget,” she says.
“The overall cost of building a house of this size using conventional methods would have been at least 25% more over 10 years ago,” says Joseph.