Express News Service

Green trees as far as the eye can see. Blue skies an expansive canopy above. The sound of birdsong. The purity of air. Talk about living, literally, in the lap of nature. Which is exactly what this home in Estate
Plavu in Kerala’s Wayanad district is all about.

George E Ramapuram

Indeed, an escape from bustling city life was the idea behind this property used as a weekend getaway by its owners who do not wish to be named. Designed by Bengaluru-based Earthitects and its principal architect, George E Ramapuram, it follows the firm’s mantra of ‘reverse urbanisation’. This is a way to urge people to re-establish the connection between themselves and nature—-a bond that has been severed by our modern, urban-centric lifestyles.

“It is a philosophy that is passionate about constantly innovating a positive change in the way people live,” says Ramapuram. The architect’s passion and commitment to nature is evident from the fact that while the plot size is over 43,000 sqft, the built-up area is just about 7,000 sqft—a rough stone and wood structure housed in a sea of forested green. Because of the hilly terrain and steep difference in contours, its three-level design comprises two lodges on the top and middle levels, and an infinity pool deck on the lowest terrace.

That utmost thought and care have gone into its construction is obvious. The living room and bedrooms have been built around the already existing rocks, trees and site contours.  “The strategic placement of masses and voids, thus, enable us to build ‘around’ nature rather than on it,” says Ramapuram. Also, solid wooden poles have been used instead of slats as rafters, the idea being the preservation of the look and feel of naturally occurring wooden poles, and process them as little as possible before using. Besides, he has chosen renewable materials native to Wayanadian architecture such as clay roofing tiles and eucalyptus poles for support. Also, nothing went to waste. Raw materials were sourced from the site itself or locally in the region.

outdoor sitting area; living room

For example, some boulders were cut to form random-rubble walls, and the leftover stone chips were preserved and used as gravel on the pathways. Extra teakwood went into mirror frames, switchboards, knobs, skirting and cloth hangers. The rooms look great, no doubt, but the most striking feature has got to be the outdoor bath. Set in a courtyard surrounded by lush foliage and boulders, the organic shower area with stepping stones gives the feel of a true sanctuary. Add to that the soothing chirping of birds––the property is home to as many as 64 species ––and you know your bonding with nature is complete.

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