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Replacing one existing house and a warehouse, this large family home was made to complement the tropical lifestyle of Kerala, India. Created by The Design Room, the architecture sympathetically retains the native trees of the 600 square metre site, and encloses several of them within a central courtyard design. The built spaces branch out from this open-air heart of the home, which achieves a cosy connection. The open plan layout was guided by the humid climatic conditions of the region. The benefits of cross ventilation, passive cooling, and natural lighting satisfied the vision for an energy-efficient home. Outside, the vegetation contrasts vibrantly with the visual heat of iron-rich red laterite stone.

The attractive three-story house structure has a crisp modern facade of contrasting red stone and clean white render. Established plants bristle around the edges of the plot, growing lush borders. Built-in planters draw a splash of natural greenery up by the front entrance door, and onto the first-floor terrace of the home.

Paving stones interrupt the green groundcover, laying a welcoming chequered driveway. Low metal gates smartly front the property, whilst white rendered walls separate the residence from its close neighbours.

Overhangs above the windows and terraces keep the interior and exterior living spaces cool and shady. Parasol roofs were implemented into the home design to support passive cooling of the interiors. These appealing roof structures also successfully conceal solar panels installed upon them.

The materials for the build were carefully selected for their local availability and their thermal effects. Laterite, an iron-rich soil and a rock type formed in tropical areas, was used extensively in the build. Historically used in monument-building, this time laterite bricks from Kannur are precisely used as a substitute for exterior cladding.

A minimalistic interior design complements the airy openness of the floor plan. Wood furniture and window frames complement the natural greenery both inside and outside of the home. The soft upholstery is light and creamy to adhere to a peaceful palette of polished white floors and white painted walls. The design shows detailed attention to the effective circulation of air throughout the house, employing slatted partitions and open bookcases to create lightweight zoning.

A double-height void makes for an impressive dining room. The modern dining set is a rich wood tone that coordinates warmly with the architectural details of the home. Double doors connect the interior dining space with the main courtyard.

A small courtyard design thrives beneath a slatted skylight, where it blurs the boundaries between inside and out. A huge glass window presents the pretty view to the living space and stairwell, whilst glass doors lead to the dining room.

There is a modern vanity unit with a bathroom sink inside the courtyard, where the family can wash their hands before dinner. A round wall mirror makes an elegant decorative feature.

The staircase design features open risers, allowing the view of the courtyard and natural light to flood in without obstruction. A comfortable sitting area makes the most of the pleasant vista.

The cream, white, and wood minimalist decor scheme continues inside the tranquil bedrooms. In the master bedroom suite, three wooden shutters create a tropical-style headboard feature behind the wood platform bed. Made-to-measure wood wardrobes span the entire length of the large room toward a matching bookcase.

False walls with decorative perforations are included on the west and south sides of the home to achieve cooler interior spaces. The decorative screens create beautiful light play across the open interior.

Comfortable sitting spaces dot the home, fashioned by modern lounge chairs and an ottoman or two. The sitting areas offer a quiet moment of solitude from the family for a spot of reading or peaceful contemplation.

As well as the already established plant life on the plot, an additional plant array was selected to harmonise with local growing conditions and the clients preferred aesthetic.

A carport shades vehicles from the hot sun during the day. Exterior lights brightly illuminate the driveway, balconies and terraces by night.

The first-floor terrace overlooks the central courtyard down at ground level, creating a family-friendly flowing connection across the vertical plane.

The sun-dappled courtyard features round decked areas that interconnect with circular plant beds. The plant beds are dotted around to house enormous trees that were already established on the site when it was purchased. In fact, the idea for the large courtyard sprung specifically from the notion of wanting to protect the numerous adult trees at the core of the plot.

The site is located just one kilometre from Kollam beach.

Side elevation, showing cladding organisation and fenestration.

Ground floor plan with courtyard, formal living room, family lounge, dining room, kitchen and butler kitchen, master bedroom suite, and a double bedroom that is used as a grandparents room.

First-floor plan with large terrace, spacious upper living room, home gym, and two additional bedrooms for the children.

The open flow of the home layout encourages many interactions between family members, as well as time spent outside in nature and fresh air. These interactions with family and nature help greatly with mental wellbeing, whilst the home gym will assist in the pursuit to keep the body healthy.

In this illustrated diagram, we observe the solar and airflow aspects of the home and its successful energy-efficient design solutions.

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