The White House by Tropical Architecture Bureau is a quaint residence in the Malappuram district of Kerala, nestled in a valley and surrounded by a rugged, hilly terrain. A 3000 sq. ft. sprawling residence for a family of doctors, this home derives its name from the first visual perception one might have of it as well as a hint towards the admission of ample light into all parts of the house, illuminating the interiors to be as bright as the exterior, thereby creating a seamless experience of enjoying the various spaces and the respective moods that these spaces induce.
As professionals of the medical science, the clients understand the significance of healing and are extremely conscious about a healthy lifestyle. This habitat is, therefore, viewed as a retreat for relaxing and recharging at the end of long strenuous days, when spending one’s conscious but free waking hours in this house will, in a sense, “heal” away the strain of the occupants.
In this regard, too, the ivory walls simulate a soothing, calming and positive environment. Interspersing the mass with suitable sunken portions, in the form of courtyards, allow breaks in transitioning from one space to another, creating pockets of visual as well as physical relief features.
Oriented along the North-South direction, basic principles of Vastu Shastra have been incorporated in the architectural design. Keeping in mind the natural conditions of the site such as wind flow direction and the sun path, typical elements of tropical architecture have been imbibed into the core zoning layout. For example, placing all the semi-private and informal spaces such as the living room, the office and the library in the south ensures a reduction in the use of artificial sources of light since sunlight is abundantly available during conventional working hours.
Another fine example of how the natural context has been optimized is the open plan concept with a central atrium flanked by rooms on all sides, creating a natural vacuum and pressure system, which induces a centralized cross ventilation mechanism, once again omitting the need for mechanized air-cooling systems. Additionally, due to the overall recessed and relief massing, there is constant and unhindered air circulation between the exterior and the interiors of the building.
A double-heighted atrium over the dining space is backed by the staircase, which is accompanied by existing onsite vegetation, and delicately enclosed by a white brickwork Jaali. The atrium rises to end in a skylight at the terrace level, which doubles as an entertainment or breakout space for informal gatherings. This becomes the central focal point on entry into the house.
As is our style at TAB, we maximize the use of locally available materials and skilled labour so as to encourage and contribute to the local cultural and economic community. In this White House at Malappuram, we explore the laws of tropical architecture and realize them in the form of practical solutions to site-specific design challenges.