The Stoic Wall Residence Invites Nature Indoors

In Kadirur, Kerala, The Stoic Wall Residence designed by LIJO.RENY.architects blends indoor and outdoor living seamlessly. It celebrates living in harmony with nature, despite the intense heat, heavy rains, and dense greenery. As architect Laurie Baker said, “Buildings need to be timeless and natural.”, the house is designed to make one feel connected to nature, with courtyards, gardens, and other natural features blending in with the architecture.

Exterior of the Stoic Wall Residence. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Crafting this expansive 7,317-square-foot dwelling involved careful consideration of various factors, reveal the architects Reny Lijo and Lijo Jose behind Lijo. Reny. Architects. The irregular terrain, adorned with both large and medium-sized trees, alongside a gentle slope towards the northeast, posed a unique challenge for the designers.  Accessibility from two main roads, one to the east and the other to the south, added to the complexity. These natural features, coupled with considerations such as the path of the sun and seasonal wind patterns, guided the placement of the house. Positioned strategically towards the north along the east-west axis of the site, the main section of the house aims to reduce heat absorption from the sun while ensuring enhanced privacy.

The architects Reny Lijo and Lijo Jose are based from Thrissur. They are in consistent experimentation with architecture and have clinched many important awards, including the ‘All India Stone Architectural Awards’, JK State Young Architect of the Year Award’ and many IIA State awards in recognition of their relentless efforts.

Aerial View. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Split into four distinct zones, the house extends across three levels on the ground floor. This configuration effortlessly integrates with the plot’s natural contours, reducing the requirement for extensive excavation or earthworks on the site. This is also the architect couple’s most interesting fact of their design journey with this completed house.

Formal living area. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

“We love how we have planned the circulation of this residence. There are multiple routes to reach any single place in the gorund floor,” says Reny Lijo.

Formal living area. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Nestled within the first zone is the formal living area, accompanied by a welcoming foyer and an enticing outdoor sitting space. Set apart from the main structure, this area is distinguished by an open-to-sky landscaped courtyard, adorned with lush greenery, and an inviting paved central space.

The connecting spaces at the Stoic Wall Residence. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Despite its physical separation, the car porch seamlessly integrates into this zone, enhancing its functionality and aesthetic appeal. Connecting this block to the second zone is an internal ramp from the foyer, designed to navigate the changing site levels, complemented by an alternative direct entry step from the car porch, ensuring convenient access throughout the space.

Formal living area. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Dining within nature.Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The circulation process within the house plays an important part in design.Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Stepping into the second zone, one is greeted by an expansive open family living and dining area seamlessly blending with the outdoor landscape. An indoor courtyard nestled within this zone promotes natural ventilation and fluid circulation throughout.

Kitchen Area. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

To maintain privacy, the kitchen and its associated spaces are thoughtfully accommodated away, offering discreet connections to the dining court on one side and the main entry court on the other. This thoughtful layout ensures easy access to the car porch and front yard, enhancing the overall functionality and convenience of the space.

View of the Kitchen. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Bedroom 1. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography:

Third zone is designed to savour the tranquility of the southwest breeze

Bedrooms. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The third zone is a serene haven comprising three bedrooms, a tranquil pooja/prayer area, and an adjoining courtyard.

Master bedroom dressing area. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Accessible via a private corridor, this secluded sanctuary offers a retreat from the bustling world outside. For added accessibility and convenience, one of the bedrooms is thoughtfully situated on the same level as the family area, catering to those with mobility challenges.

Bedroom space. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Each bedroom welcomes a visitor with a foyer, doubling as a dressing area, and connects to an internal open-to-sky courtyard. Here, residents can relish in the calm of southwesterly winds and enjoy the respite offered by monsoon rains, creating an immersive experience of tranquility and connection with nature.

The exteriors of The Stoic Wall Residence. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The staircase at the main entrance leads to the upper floor, where leisure awaits. The entertainment room doubles as a family space, while the master bedroom extends into a semi-open lounge area with a dressing area and toilet. The first floor is wrapped in a protective screen of thin fluted terracotta blocks on a metal tube framework, shielding it from the sun and rain and providing a private passage from every room.

Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The roof details of The Stoic Wall Residence. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The architectural design of ‘The Stoic Wall Residence’ captivates attention with its exterior, reflecting the internal layout and hinting at the interiors.

The architects throw light on another project of their the  ‘The Running Wall Residence,’ designed for the homeowner’s brother, which boasts of sturdy exposed laterite walls, projecting from the structure to create intimate recesses within the landscape for privacy.

Blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, the residence employs a blend of light and solid materials. Its linear design is complemented by numerous courtyards that connect primary rooms to landscaped areas or open-to-sky spaces.

Interiors that reflect traditions of Kerala

The Stoic Wall Residence blends with nature.Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

The interiors boast simplicity, ornamented with fine art photography by the homeowner’s brother. From exposed laterite to terracotta, teak wood, and stone pavers, the carefully chosen materials exude warmth both inside and out. The landscape, thoughtfully managed, enhances the ambiance with native plant varieties integrated alongside existing greenery.

View of the residence from outside with a view of the fluted framework. Photo Credit: Turtle Arts Photography

Of particular interest is the fluted terracota that catch our attention on the first floor that are exposed to the elements and acts as a protective screen. This according to the architect are terracotta flutes that slid onto a vertical metal tube framework. This screen envelops the entire first floor, shielding it from the intense sun and rain while offering a private passage accessible from every room.

All these elements, combined, act as vital links, firmly rooting the house in its natural environment, echoing a traditional palette that resonates with the unique setting of northern Kerala. While the design of the house is decidedly modern, its essence remains deeply rooted in the region’s heritage.