A True Reflection of the Landscape
Architecture + Design|December 2020
Project: ‘MAUSAM’- The House of Seasons, KeralaArchitects: Zero Studio, Kerala

The Context: More than being low budget, this house is the outcome of a realisation that architecture need not be expensive and brand new.

In the wake of globalisation, when ideas and information are just a click away and are followed by a large audience belonging to different layers of society, the image of what is good architecture has been stereotyped to a big extent. In developing countries like India, this is rooted in the notion that there is a certain kind of architecture that represents the financial status of the user, especially in the case of residences where almost everyone wants a home that ‘looks’ rich and expensive.

Like elsewhere, this has caused residential architecture in Kerala as well to slowly drift away from using vernacular materials and techniques, thus compromising aspects such as climatic responsiveness, energy efficiency etc in the due course. Architecture prevailing in the Middle East and Europe where a vast majority of Keralites work, has become an influence in defining their taste. Whatever be the style used, the affluent class has the privilege to afford air conditioned, automated systems in their residences, but the rest who live in the cheaper or smaller scale replicas of those huge mansions don’t. They complain that there is a lack of comfort inside their homes; it’s too hot even though they have spent a lion’s share of their savings for them, and are thus forced to stay unhappy in their dream homes.

The Idea

The attempt was to create awareness on the importance of having true-to-self buildings rather than look-alikes. Not that there should be distinction in architecture for the rich and the poor. However, the point here is that, whatever be the social status, residential architecture should speak the language of simplicity and respond to the particular aspects of the site, climate, vernacular building materials and the end user.

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