Together Is a Wonderful Place to Be

The Urban Village in Calicut, designed by Common Ground, is a small community residence for six families bound together by common amenities, but are heterogeneous in design, imparting an element of surprise and anticipation in discovering each house.

The facade of Villa 2.

The Urban Village seems to be the perfect solution to the new way of life, for life post-Covid, with the reality of smaller communities and an intimate circle of family or friends to suit our comfort and safety needs. The Urban Village inhabitants did not miss out on togetherness with friends and family during the Covid 19 lockdown as they celebrated intimate gatherings within safe parameters of their planned residences.

Interiors of Villa 2, a joyous space of light and sunshine.

Common Ground, a team of a collective of designers headed by Simi Sreedharan and Binoy Balakrishnan, is a joint environment that facilitates continuous research and experiment on architecture. “We believe every project is a unique challenge that goes through a comprehensive design process, devoid of size and scope. Eluding categorisation along with stereotypical styles or types, we prefer to be contextual and harmonise the need of the client with the realities of architecture. Thus, each project is an opportunity to mould the firm,” believes Simi Sreedharan, who has been instrumental for the firm in winning multiple IIID accolades for interior design.

The landscape guides the common path while the greenery takes a life of its own.

They explain the design brief and the way they tackled the challenge with a perfect design solution: “Two doctor friends visited us with their requirement. They had roughly 1 acre of land to build houses for them and their siblings together. The project was envisioned as a community of six residences (4 built) sharing common amenities yet maintaining the uniqueness and privacy of each house. The context being the same, design clues were derived out of the varied personalities of individual clients, making every house unique, unlike a villa project. There are no front compound walls, thus the front yards also added to the common area, visually,” explains Binoy.

The residences though varied in design are bound by materiality that seems to be common, wooden slants that run through the exteriors while bringing in the sunshine to the interiors and the strength of the stone facade also imparts inhabitants with a sense of warmth and welcome.

Villa 1 is camouflaged by the greenery around it.

The first residence, called the Villa 1 was designed with privacy as a priority, which was attained through the screened wall and lush landscape. “The vertical tower of bedroom block is balanced with the horizontality of the long screen wall in the front,” says Simi. The privacy for the clients has been carried out with at most diligence with a less visual representation of the first villa.

Villa 2; designed for coming together and be socially interactive.

The water body becomes the central core of the Villa 2.

Villa 2, according to the designers is a joyful abode for a social and cheerful couple and their three daughters. The heart of the home is a 17m long central pool, visible from most of the rooms in the house. The water creates a dramatic reflection in the house.

Arranging the functions in two prominent blocks with circulation corridors around the pool provides interesting visual connections between spaces, satisfies the key requirement of the client, for the house to encourage walks, within the house! The façade of the house is detailed with teak wood and GI frames. A house that is inviting yet intimate.

Villa 3 of the Urban Village.

Villa 3, is where simplicity is kept as the keyword, in terms of geometry, planning, and finishes. “Just like the clients who own this,” says Binoy.

“For the inhabitants of Urban Village, the lockdown was a joyous family vacation. They spent quality time inside this protected community, next to their siblings and friends. The kids jumped into the pool at villa 2 every day in the mornings and rode bicycles through the internal road. In the evenings, they gathered at the large sit-out and played board games. The elders played badminton in the common area, while the grandmother nurtured her dearest plants. This surely is a great model of housing in the near future. Together is a wonderful place to be,” explains the architects.

Sitout of Villa2.

The Site Plan of Urban Village


All Images Courtesy Common Ground.

Photography by Justin Sebastian.