God’s Own Residence
We would like to name the Alarine Earth Home in Kochi as God’s Own Residence as this house seems to blend into the paddy field around with minimal intrusion to nature. This house seems to be in continuum of bountiful earth, and exists in completely harmony with the environment it is in. This home embodies the coming together of the professional and personal lives of architect Zarine Jamshedji and construction veteran Cornelis Alan Beuke. Jamshedji is the founder and principal architect of Zarine Jamshedji Architects, and Beuke has had many years of experience in construction.
The Alarine Earth Home located in the outskirts of Kochi was a result of the land, a site which when found, had to be lived upon, in complete environmental consciousness with minimum intrusions. It is a house that seems to calm the senses and a place one comes to stay put, to be at peace with land, flora and fauna, earth and water.
“We looked for a site that resonated with our desire of how and where we wanted to live. A vision of how we wanted to build emerged instantaneously from it. The desire to have a home that ‘blends in’ the true sense of the word into the land and landscape, not be intrusive, or block the expansive paddy field for our neighbours in the rear,” explains Jamshedji of the true intent behind the home, adding how their work is truly an extension of architecture design that can be both sensitive and considerate.
Beuke continues, “Once the land was found we could not wait to live on it. We chose Stereogram’s Innovative Building Technology (Schnell 3D Panel construction system) for its unmatched properties of structural strength, high insulation, construction speed, perfect combination of prefab and in-situ. Total time for construction, interiors and landscape was six months, from site start to finish.”
The house is not just a well-planned and executed project it is also a structural masterpiece with many sustainable features incorporated into it.
Beuke explains it, “We visited a laterite cutting workshop for a large cement-less retaining wall, for a project of ours. We requested the collection of the waste laterite paste from the workshop floors and adapted it as the wall plaster render.”
The function, the usage of sustainable materials and the merging of the interiors with exteriors are all attained seamlessly bringing together a high-tech material for its efficiency and a low- tech material for its earthiness.
“Unlike a conventional home, there is no main door. You enter below an array of solar panels into a seamless communal living, dining, and kitchen space and further a column free sit-out that merges ahead; uninterrupted with the landscape and the paddy field,” he says.
Several pieces of furniture and light fittings are made from waste Schnell panels. An old tree root found on site was cleaned and repurposed. An old trench was enlarged to form a pond to hold water from the paddy for irrigation and be refilled from the roof water. Bio septic tank to ensure proper digestion of sewage and the same was recycled for landscape use. Discarded panels were repurposed to create furniture pieces and lighting fixtures, while the plinth of an old pumping shed was converted into an outdoor landscape seating area.
The roof is planted with Vetiver (Khus, Miracle grass), for both its properties and its aesthetics to merge seamlessly with the paddy ahead. A lone dying teak tree on the property was brought back to life and principles of Permaculture are brought into the landscape.
“We believe that a good designer can create timeless beauty with any material without being obsessed with a single design language or style. Different situations call for new architecture and we must keep trying to come closer to more effective sustainable solution,” says Jamshedji.
Office Name: Zarine Jamshedji Architects
Firm Location: Pune, Cochin, India
Completion Year: 2023
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 380 m2
Site Area: 1620 m2
Project Location: Cochin, Kerala, India
Design: Zarine Hoshang Jamshedji, Abhishek Suthan
Structural Concept: Cornelis Alan Beuke
Supervision: Zarine Hoshang Jamshedji, Cornelis Alan Beuke, Navin Limbani
Draft Management Coordination: Surya Narayanan, Sarah Janet Augustin
Photography: Syam Sreesylam