The Breathing Wall Residence by Lijo Reny Architects

narrow residence

“There’s so little you can see of this house from outside,” was the thought that came to mind when I first saw the images of this breathtaking residence. This narrow house sitting on a rectangular piece of land is designed by Lijo Reny architects for a family in Thrissur, Kerala. Flanked by a narrow road on one side, and houses on all other sides, this one reminds me of our ancestral homes where the only source of sunlight and ventilation was from the top. There was no room for windows as there was a common wall shared with another house or a busy street.

In our ancestral homes, there was no room for windows as there was a common wall shared with another house or a busy street. Our ancestral home was renovated recently, but sadly it feels more claustrophobic now than before with the central courtyard of the yesteryears giving way to a glass roof that restricts sunlight and airflow. Every time I’m there, I feel a sense of urgency to step out for a whiff of fresh air every once in a while.

The breathing wall residence is rightly named so. Lijo Reny architects have redesigned this existing house to let light stream in. The design is brilliant in thought and execution and can be adopted for most ancestral homes that are renovated.

living double height

As all homes in Kerala, wood is used liberally throughout the house to bring in warmth and factor in the warm climate.

The home is split into two parts with a central skylit courtyard. A staircase in the center connects the two parts of the house.

courtyard

What you see here is uniformity and a radical approach to design. What is not needed is done away with, by challenging traditional design. For instance, the wall separating the dining area and the bedroom is replaced by frosted glass shutters that takes the look and openness of the space by a few notches.

dining + bed room

The landscaping and the central airlit theme continues to the top levels.

another bed room

Instead of concrete walls, perforated walls made of corten steel have been used that aids in ventilation while providing privacy.

steel screen

This winning design is one to be emulated and celebrated.

Image courtesy:

Lijo Reny Architects

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