- Riya Shah and Ami Mody
Aalayam - A house in the hills
The idea of merging tradition in a contemporary imagination of the ‘Aalayam’ (home) is the essence of this residence for a family of six, in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu. The house in the hills is a reminiscent of a time gone by - returning to the grandparents’ house on a school break, lazing on a daybed while a hot summer breeze blows ever so slightly and running around barefoot on the dewy hill grass.
The house is a modern manifestation of this nostalgia. Perched on a hill overlooking the vast Kodaikanal Lake, the design emulates the lay of the land and locates itself within the contoured site in levels. The mass is divided between 3 primary blocks with a courtyard that punctures the volume to create a release space within the volume.
The Architectural approach creates a new language for family home rooted in tradition aspiring to create a modern habitat suited to the times. The primary residents are the parents that are periodically visited by their son, daughter in law and pre-teen children. The house is divided into 3 blocks – leisure, formal and living. These spaces are organized to create ample private and common spaces for the family that flow into each other. The dining and casual drawing room are the heart of the house that open into a large interior courtyard on one side and a pool overlooking the valley on the other. Natural materials used in combination with the contemporary create a seamless blend of modern design and traditional aesthetics. Balconies, windows and screens allow daylight and ventilation while opening up to panoramic views of the hills surrounding the lake. The furniture is custom design to fit in and enhance the space it inhabits, while creating a comfortable functional residence. The clean and functional design that is rooted in and inspired by nature makes this residence an urban sanctuary for the family.