“The question of the fragment in architecture is very important since it may be that only ruins express a fact completely. Photographs of cities during war, sections of apartments, broken toys. Delphi and Olympia. This ability to use pieces of mechanisms whose overall sense is partly lost has always interested me, even in formal terms. I am thinking of a unity, or a system, made solely of reassembled fragments”.
Aldo Rossi, A Scientific Autobiography
About the project
Originally built as a working class residence set in the rural outskirts of Thiruvalla amongst sugar cane farms. The 1990 house is a typical single floor, flat concrete slab house, 9 grid in plan where private rooms are arranged around a central hall. Arched openings, plain plastered walls, sloped shading slabs and centrally placed identical windows comprises its exteriors, a typical house found in the state of Kerala even today. Clients, now in the retirement age, wanted to alter their 30 year old house according to changed life styles and landscape. The new programme also needs to address the aspiration of the elder architect son and a SOHO for him separately.
Brief note on process
Choosing a form of narrative, required us to concede to the fact that we are responsible for what we leave out, and also for how we change the narrative of an already existent story. Conserving a building, keeping its cultural nostalgia intact without compromising on any of the spatial experiences of the modern era is our primary concern. Tackling these aspects without prioritizing one over the other was the drive behind the project. It was not the urge to romanticize the image of the past, but to rather use its remains as a stimulus to present an aesthetic interest and a modern philosophical interpretation.
While designing, the architectural experience is created for the present. However the process adopts the accidents, collisions, juxtapositions and other existing architectural relationships that were inherent to the building before our encounter with it. On a building that already had many layers from the past, adding a new imaginative layer results in a modern solution rather than a mere restoration of parts.
Differentiating built forms as per its period of construction and thereby into separate functions. The new architectural expression simplifies the whole into regular forms and strongly distinguishes the old and new as separate layers/materials. Concrete Cement blocks, steel and glass were used for new construction which sits in contrast with the white plastered walls of the old construction.
The dialogue between old and new realized here is a conscious effort to create a unity made out of fragments. It tries to preserve certain fragments which are of aesthetic interest and memory. Adding new elements to these preserved elements create a complex yet distinct dialogue. These elements are superimposed and synthesized in a way that the new house resembles a composite photograph.
The devastating Kerala floods of 2018 affected the progress of construction very badly. Cleaning, reworking and economic constraints led the construction to an indefinite halt.
1990 HOUSE on Youtube