Karai- The courtyard home designed by Rain Studio is indeed an Urban Arcadia 

Located in the placid environs of coastal town Kuvathur near Chennai, this courtyard home is designed as result of simple experiment with stacked Mangalore tiles, deep red brick walls and earthenware pots to facilitate passive cooling that felt local yet contemporary to the region.

Named Karai, the farmhouse was conceptualized to impart the experience of living in the palms of mother earth. Built hands-on  about eighty kilometers from Chennai,  this weekend home is located in the serene vicinity of coastal Kuvathur abutting the beach.

Rain Studio took a cue from  traditional South Indian architecture  Naalukettu – a homestead building with four halls arranged around a central courtyard.  The earthly unit was envisaged to remain hidden within dense verdure and framed by reflection pools.

Aiming to create a secluded atmosphere for the home, the structure was built from a combination of reclaimed and regional materials, which were left raw wherever possible.

A brick-paved courtyard sits at the centre of the home, hugged by a veranda sheltered by concrete and tile roofs supported by stepped steel columns that double as drainpipes.

As per designers, bedrooms and a kitchen diner surround the courtyard on the ground floor, while to the south a staircase leads up to a first floor lounge, which is elevated to capture views out across the sea.

The walls of the home were built from a mixture of deep red brick, stacked Mangalore tiles and compressed earth bricks, with wooden doors made from reclaimed window shutters and flooring made from pieces of discarded stone.

The CSEB (Compressed stabilized earth blocks) procured from Auroville were made to match the height and proportions of the Mangalore tiles. In an attempt to achieve sprinkles of the summer sun into the spaces, cut toughened glass pieces have been used as inserts in portions of the roof.

The concept of reinterpreting traditional structures was carried through into Karai’s finishes, with reclaimed and regional materials used throughout.

As a simple experiment with techniques that felt native yet contemporary to the region,” explained the studio.

“Pre-used Mangalore tiles warped up  by mu mortar form a majority of the walls, creating earthy volumes that contrast the green backdrop,  Four-directional sloping roofs composed of the standard interlocking Mangalore tiles cover the rooms extending onto corridors.

The painted Mild Steel columns support the roof connecting to beams that double up as gutters collecting rainwater.”

One of the design intentions was to explore regional traditional techniques and reuse of reclaimed construction materials in unconventional ways. A Tetris of old window shutters that form the doors and flooring composed of a mosaic of discarded stone pieces is a testament to this.

Abutting the house, a swimming pool with a sheltered pagoda that mirrors the aesthetic of the main house.

Photographs:Yash R Jain, Ekansh Goel

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