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Earthitects’ Sustainable Approach to Reverse Urbanisation

Drawing inspiration from the concept of ‘reverse urbanisation,’ Earthitects have designed a collection of bespoke luxury villas in Wayanad, Kerala, inspired by the indigenous hillside architecture of the region.

Birds Eye View of one of the houses surrounded by greenery.

Nestled within the lush landscape, Stone Lodges designed by Earthitects comprises 15 private residences spread across 13 acres of forested hillside. Each villa is meticulously designed to seamlessly blend with its natural surroundings, prioritising sustainability and ecological harmony. Among these, Estate Plavu stands as a testament to the union of opulence and environmental consciousness.

The view of the second lodge.

The Principal Architect & MD of Earthitects, George E. Ramapuram was recently acknowledged in Forbes India: 30 under 45 for his work on nature oriented homes and ideology of ‘reverse urbanisation’. Shortlisted in Surface Design Awards 2022, George is also a winner of the prestigious Grohe – Architectural Digest Bath and Space Awards in 2021.

Responding to Reverse Urbanisation

The concept of reverse urbanisation, or returning to nature, emerges as a forward-looking approach to living—a thoughtful and perceptive shift that is poised to influence design trends significantly. Architecture guided by nature reintroduces the enriching experience of reconnecting with oneself and the environment.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, there’s a burgeoning desire to embrace a life of abundance in non-urban settings, driving a transformative wave in residential design paradigms.

Estate Plavu

Living Area

Inspired by native mountain lodges, Estate Plavu is designed in harmony with its mountainous surroundings across three distinct levels. This luxury villa, with a built-up area of 7,000 sq. ft., is situated on an individual forested plot nearly an acre in size.

Furniture repurposed.

The challenging hilly terrain required innovative planning, leading to a unique three-level design.

Each level houses separate lodges: two for living and one for the infinity pool deck. The upper and middle levels feature the spacious residence, while the lowest level includes an exterior terrace with an infinity pool surrounded by lily ponds. Each lodge is positioned six meters below the previous, offering unobstructed views over the rooftops.

Estate Plavu’s lodges are designed around existing rocks, trees, and site contours, preserving the natural landscape. Strategic voids in the structure allow the buildings to integrate with nature, not impose on it. Living spaces flow around the landscape, such as the west bedroom in the second lodge, which was redesigned to include a tree-overlooking study.

Harmony Deck-Common Area

Courtyards within the lodges bring natural light and ventilation, enhancing the microclimate, while connecting bridges create an immersive experience, and integrated lighting design offers a warm, inviting glow. The architects have also included automated lighting, that ensures a seamless transition from day to night, maintaining the serene ambiance.

An Experience of Bathing Under the Sky

The design aims to harmonise with the natural landscape, featuring signature outdoor baths that offer the freedom to shower beneath the open sky. Surrounded by lush foliage and natural boulders, these courtyard showers use stepping stones to create a sanctuary-like space.

Eucalyptus poles on the ceiling cast playful light and shadow, evoking the feeling of being under a tree, while their natural oils add to the atmosphere. Brass fixtures with a patina finish complement the rustic stone walls, adding antique charm.

A gazebo, crafted from natural materials like unfinished teak wood rafters and clay tiles, offers an ideal viewing deck by the lily pond and infinity pool. This space, perfect for outdoor dining, provides unobstructed views of the lush green valley. The design incorporates ecological practices, using reclaimed wood and timber from fallen trees, and ensures replantation efforts to compensate for any wood used from managed mills.

Monolith Lounger

Celebrating the Wayanadian architecture that Makes One Feel Closer to Nature

Outdoor seating (Tranquillity Seater)

Estate Plavu embodies a rustic aesthetic with wooden flooring, random-rubble walls, grey cobblestone pathways, and log rafters. Rough, uncut stones form thick masonry walls that contrast with the warm glow of wood, offering thermal insulation. These walls absorb heat by day and release it at night, reducing heating and cooling costs. Renewable materials like clay tiles and eucalyptus poles, native to Wayanadian architecture, are used for roofing and support.

Whole wooden poles serve as rafters in the rooms, preserving their natural look and feel. Exterior facades feature thick wooden poles, reminiscent of mountain lodges. Eucalyptus poles’ natural oils ensure low maintenance.

Upcycled wood from construction is crafted into mirror frames, switchboards, knobs, skirting, and cloth hangers, promoting sustainability. Handcrafted floors, cabinetry, and furniture showcase expert craftsmanship, with materials left unfinished to age gracefully. This thoughtful use of materials makes the villa a true home.

 Preserving Traditional Architecture and Craftsmanship

 A growing trend among architects is the call to utilise local craftsmanship, reinterpreting traditional materials and skills to express cultural heritage in building design. This approach protects cultural heritage and promotes empowerment by encouraging a return to our roots.

Foyer Table

Earthitects has curated the Handcrafted Collectibles furniture collection at Stone Lodges. Using construction waste and overlooked materials, they create bespoke pieces. Natural stone slabs form the entrance credenza, while fabrics are pure blends free from polyester. Solid teak wood with ‘live’ edges adds effortless elegance, and locally sourced materials bring the space to life.

Allure Armchair

The ‘Allure Armchair’ honours the tree’s spirit with its natural wood edges, paired with understated natural fabric and set against a hand-textured wall. Beside it, the signature ‘Bole’ serves as both a side table and a floor lamp, with a banana fibre lampshade casting a warm glow. The handwoven jute rug complements the hardwood floor’s grains.

Snug swing

Snug seater

The ‘Snug Seater,’ inspired by the Bagworm moth’s cocoon, features rotating eucalyptus spindles mimicking the insect’s case. The live-edge trunks create an elevated effect, allowing rotation. These Handcrafted Collectibles are timeless sculptures that exhibit exquisite craftsmanship and resonate emotionally with Plavu’s homeowners.

Tranquillity seater

Stone Outdoor Dining

Prioritising Environmental Responsibility

The residence boasts 64 species of endemic birds, thriving among fruit trees and birdbaths. Lily ponds surrounding the deck attract these vibrant creatures, their dawn chorus enhancing the serene ambiance. This immersive experience can ignite anyone’s passion for birdwatching.

Species include Crimson-fronted Barbet, Malabar Hornbill, and Blue-capped Rock Thrush. Sustainability drives the project, sourcing materials locally or on-site. Boulders form walls, while teakwood makes fixtures. Native greenery moderates temperatures (16°C-26°C), contrasting with Wayanad’s heat.

Plavu’s design prioritises environmental responsibility, offering luxury amidst nature’s embrace, a welcome escape from urban hustle. Earthitects redefine luxury living, harmonising with wilderness.

“We, at Earthitects, are instilled with the core belief that ‘God is the greatest Architect.’ This philosophy, ingrained in all our design decisions has resulted in preserving the purity of nature to facilitate life in its abundance by enabling the enjoyment of God’s creations in its fullness” says George.