Sthira is a recreational lounge on the terrace-level of a private residence in Kerala, India. The extended living space fuses a contemporary design with a curated landscape -- creating an engaging environment. Set against the backdrop of verdant paddy fields, backwaters and rugged hillocks of Kerala, Sthira’s design pays homage to its awe-inspiring location surrounded by nature. Co-founders and design principals Ar.Shalini Chandrashekar and Ar.G.S. Mahaboob Basha of Taliesyn - Design & Architecture in Bengaluru, India, emphasized that using locally quarried stone was a priority, as the material is not only beautiful, but also sustainable.
The heart of the layout features lush green vegetation and manicured landscape that manifests as the central courtyard. The glass walls of the built spaces hug the edges of the courtyard, creating a flow of circulation around the focal greenery. The interior layout comprises a private family dining area and lounge, an extended multipurpose banquet space, a dedicated hand-wash section and a powder bathroom. The structure's shell bears a stylish identity attributed to the slender steel beams and glass windows that slide as moving components to permeate the framework with an airy and alfresco demeanor.
The choice of upholstery and fabrics are consciously pared-down, allowing the minimal prints and hues to become a part of the lounge's narrative. The furniture across the family areas is cohesive in its appearance due to homogenous materiality. Sthira’s design has been peppered tastefully, via the inclusion of antique sculptures, such as a traditional avian and wooden canoe boat bringing the context’s craftsmanship to the space. The design intent fulfills the homeowner’s desire to inhabit a dedicated area where familial warmth, the interplay of nature and seamless spaces converge. Moreover, the texture and inherent characteristics of natural stone further enhance the overall design of the lounge.
“In recent years, the practice of using natural stones as a construction material is being embraced vehemently,” explained Chandrashekar and Basha. “For a vernacular delight such as Sthira, the walls are cladded in a collage of textural slate, while the Tandoor Kota Stone comprises the floor to create an immersive experience. Athangudi tiles cascade from the walls onto the flooring in the bathrooms, harnessing neutrality in the space. The bespoke curved green Baroda marble basin with a black granite top rewards the dining wash. Some of the walls are massed by stacking rustic terracotta tiles reigned by linear geometry. A breeze-block wall is composed into the built space to create a tessellation of patterns and introduce a rooted feel into the setting.”
The architects went on to say that building with natural stone is an environment-friendly practice that withstands the test of time. “The material palette put together for Sthira is visualized as a mood board of subtle colors, and the wisely chosen combination of these stones facilitates this approach,” they said. “In response to the humid weather conditions, these stones remain easy to maintain and do not project as a tedious upkeep task. Also, the eyeful texture these stones possess introduces a visual appeal and complements the subtle conception.
“The thought of procuring locally available material for construction enhances a project's sustainable quotient and makes it more economically viable,” the architects continued to explain. “In concern with this ideology, the Tandoor Kota Stone and the marble are acquired from National Slate and Granite, a wholesale trading firm based in Bangalore. The terracotta tiles are sourced through Bangalore Tile Company and Athangudi tiles from Tamil Nadu.
A combination of 300- x 600- and 600- x 600-mm tiles were employed for the walls and flooring. “The distinct stone sizes used for the flooring and the walls let the material spread seamlessly into space and rewards the spatial experience with a vernacular element,” said the architects.
When asked how natural stone fit in with the other elements of the design, Chandrashekar and Basha explained, “the poetic landscape appeals for an earthly vocabulary, and the natural stone construction fits well with this setting. This material is also pivotal in addressing the concerns raised by the region’s highly humid and harshly sunny climatology.”
The architects visited the stockyard to handpick the building stones to procure varied shades of the same color typology. “The rhythmic pattern offered by juxtaposing these variants creates a sense of engagement for the spectators,” they said. “This forethought vision was tested by curating on-site mock-ups of the desired language, and the stone pieces were picked accordingly.
“The most memorable aspect of this project has to be the infinite mock-ups laid on-site to achieve the perfect language within the varied pieces,” the architects went on to say. “The many trial layovers made under keen supervision before fixing the stones together paid well when the physical outcome resonated with the design abstraction. Being able to bring the imagined renders very close to reality is a blissful experience for an architect.”
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