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An airy, tropical Kerala home

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This airy, spacious home in Thrissur, Kerala takes inspiration from its tropical surroundings to bring in ample natural light and air

Those living in dark, narrow homes with no hope of ventilation or adequate natural light can take heart from the airy, tropical home in Kerala’s Thrissur district designed by Lijo Jos and Reny Lijo of Lijo Reny Architects. 

The architect couple transformed a dingy home in Thrissur, Kerala, into a delightful space that opens to the sky and boasts a patch of greenery right in its heart. A fitting tribute to its bright, tropical surroundings.

“The client was desperate to bring natural light and air into the space. He was ready to consider unconventional means to achieve that,” says Lijo. The house was several decades old, and was hemmed in by houses on the right and back with a narrow private road on the left. The existing structure was razed to build a breathing abode using innovative techniques. 

Considering the linear shape of the plot, a central atrium seemed the best bet to provide ventilation to the space. The atrium divides the house into front and back blocks of 3.3 mts and 1.8 mts each with a staircase connecting the two. 

To secure the open sides of the atrium on the left and right, they began thinking of walls that could breathe, be durable and also add aesthetic value. “We first thought of using ferro-cement panels, but finally settled for Corten steel walls for its durability and appearance,” says Reny. Unlike regular steel that rusts and deteriorates over time, Corten’s rust makes it stronger and gives it a nice, burnished orange look. “The house owner, Johnson Thottan, deals in construction materials, so he was aware of the various options. It helped us take the call,” says Lijo.  

To make the steel panels breathe, holes were cut into them creating patterned perforation. The sky-lit atrium was also tastefully landscaped. “The owners were keen on having greenery inside and were open to taking care of it,” says Reny. The result was a space that the owners fell in love with.

The ground floor houses a sit-out and a living room opening into the central atrium, that further leads to the kitchen, a dining room and a bed room at the back. The first floor has another bedroom, a study and a spacious family area. 

The top-most floor is occupied by the third bedroom with a perforated wall that forms a stunning façade for the building, and a roof terrace.

The minimalistic interiors have hints of colour against a muted backdrop. According to Lijo, even if an area is enclosed on all sides, it’s possible to ventilate it by opening it to the sky through a central volume; just as the architect duo expertly demonstrated through this design project.

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