Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Get creative on a coastline

What are the aspects of nature that one could bring about in houses built by the sea? Read on for the long list of features...

EVERY HOUSE has a character and a dream associated with it. It expresses the style of the person living and also that of his family members. As a preparation, creating the right setting and selecting the ideal site are most often met by the client themselves. It is all the more important when planning for special site conditions like a coastline plot. Additional care has to be taken to study the neighbourhood building, the green belt and the road network. Also, a study of the possibility of future developments also should be taken up right at the planning stage.

Just like any person, the site as well has a character attached to it. It is defined by the dimensions and shape of the site by the natural vegetation present in it and its contours. But, to many, the ideal thing would be to cut the trees and build a concrete mass, devoid of all that nature has given us. Also, nearly 10 per cent of Chennai's population lives along the seaside, but not many have used the natural resources.

For example, when we decided to build a house at MRC Nagar, the client wanted the maximum utilisation of the sea breeze, and uninterrupted flow of wind inside the house as well. Many of the plots that are available have only a narrow footage, and so was the case in this site as well. Hence the front façade was fixed with large French windows and some openings had good grills with no glazing but just a mosquito net. To prevent rainwater from splashing in, we brought in large overhangs. The natural vegetation and the large trees could be a lot more than just a shading device, it could be a screen or a shield to protect against the exterior pollution, adjoining residences and flats. Not just that, trees serve as a natural habitat for birds and gives a tremendous sense of relief when seen from inside the house.

Even as one approaches the residence, you can clearly see the bright colours of the façade through the parted branches of the huge neem tree right in front of the building. The compound wall, also done up with the same shades, was painted to match the building lines. The flooring material near the entry too was a novel combination of wood and rough granite. The same material combination is taken into the entrance stairs.

To match the wood in the flooring, the compound wall and gate have to be vertical louvered wooden planks (Karu wood), which provide privacy as well as good looks. The doors and windows have also been artistically done with metal artwork. The glasswork done for the windows also have etchings and stained glasswork.

There are also a lot of balconies and a large terrace with an excellent view of the sea as a backdrop. There is also a deck that is accessed through the family room. The deck has a pergola roof cover with FRD sheet above. The flooring is done in wooden planks with a pattern that flows along with the building line. There is some in-built seating done in complete `Jaisalmer' yellow marble.

Certainly it would be quite an experience to walk down this deck bare foot on a winter morning and just relax watching the clear blue sky.

The inner area of the house have intentionally been separated by levels rather than walls to allow the wind to flow right through the house. The living and the dining have double heights that help in the wind movement and also for interaction. The ceiling as such has been kept 12'0" to give a more airy feeling inside.

To reflect the cheerful character of the seashore, the buildings' exterior has been painted in bright and contrasting colours.

But the sea breeze is also very corrosive in nature. Hence the steel work was painted in zinc-based coating, and the foundation coated with tar mix.

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