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Kerala architecture

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Architecture of Kerala

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Kerala architecture

  1. 1. Vernacular Architecture Kerala Architecture
  2. 2. Introduction • Kerala Architecture is one of the most exciting examples of preservation of vernacular styles. • The evolution of domestic architecture of Kerala followed closely the trend of development in temple architecture. • The primitive models of circular, square or rectangular plain shapes with a ribbed roof evolved from functional consideration. • The climate of Kerala greatly influenced the traditional architecture. • The natural building materials available for construction in Kerala i.e. stones, timber, clay and palm leaves have anchored and guided the acceptance or rejection of outside influences
  3. 3. Influence of climate • Kerala has a warm humid climate. The rainfall is very heavy from south west and north east monsoons • To keep the rain and sun away form the walls the roofs of the building come down very low. • They have verandah all round the building protecting the external walls from sun and rain. • The width of the verandah varies from 2 ft to 12ft • In rooms were people spend most of their time during day the window openings were brought in at ground level otherwise the windows were small so that there was only subdued light inside or had timber jalis to give diffused light without glare. • They also have an internal courtyard for better flow of air.
  4. 4. Roofing system • The ridged roof pitched at angles between 30degree to 40degree • The roof with intricately carved gables protruding from the roof with overhangs supported by wooden brackets. • The roof is prefabricated that is different members are fixed on the ground and assembled at the top. • No nails are used. • The roof is kept in position by interlocking with the hole in the rafters. • Walls made of timber or earth and roof of coconut leaves or tiles are common in many parts of Kerala • Structurally the roof frame was supported on the pillars on walls erected on a plinth raised from the ground for protection against dampness and insects in the tropical climate.
  5. 5. Roofing system
  6. 6. Flooring System • The most common type of flooring was that of beaten earth polished with cow dung at regular intervals • Black colored traditional flooring used in the more expensive buildings was done with the mixture of lime, sand, coconut shell, white of egg, jaggery, coconut water and other vegetable extracts. The smoothness was achieved by polishing the floor with a particular variety of banana.
  7. 7. Building Materials • The availability of granite -a strong and durable building stone is restricted mainly to the highlands and marginally to some hilly zones. Accordingly, the skill in quarrying, dressing and sculpturing of stone is scarce in Kerala. • Laterite stone however, is abundantly found • Soft laterite available at shallow depth can be easily cut, dressed and used as building blocks. It is a local stone that gets stronger and durable with exposure to the atmosphere. • Block of this stone may be bonded in mortars of shell lime, - the classic binding material used in traditional buildings. • Lime mortar can be improved in strength and performance by admixtures of vegetable juices. Such enriched mortars were utilised for plastering and low relief work.
  8. 8. Building Materials • Timber remains the prime structural material abundantly available in Kerala, in many varieties - from bamboo to teak and rosewood. The skilful choice of timber, artful assembly and delicate carving of wood work for columns, walls and roofs frames are the unique characteristics of Kerala architecture, using accurate fit of joints. • Clay was used in many forms - for walling, in filling the timber floors and making bricks and tiles after firing in kilns, tempered with admixtures. • Palm leaves are still used effectively for thatching the roofs and for making partition walls and along with mud
  9. 9. Vastuvidya- Traditional architecture • Traditional Kerala architecture is the Vastu vidhya is derived from the Stapatya Veda of Adharva Veda and deals with two types of architecture – Residential Architecture(Manusyalaya) under functional architecture – Temples coming under conceptual architecture.
  10. 10. • A house in Kerala is generally called Veedu. The Veedu gives shelter to joint-family kinfolk or tharavad. The joint family system (tharavad--kinship system) consequently promotes the tradition of living in a huge shelter or mansion (veedu--object of house). The term is Dravidian and is used in some parts of Tamil Nadu and North Srilanka for all types of residential architecture, but generally the people of Kerala will refer to their veedu as tharavad. Residential Architecture
  11. 11. Residential architecture • There are various terms of house for different tribes according to social status and profession. The house of: • Pariah - CHERI • the agrestic slave – Cheraman - CHALA. • blacksmith, the goldsmith, the carpenter, the weaver - KUDI • temple servants reside – VARIYAM / PISHARAM • The ordinary Nayars - VEEDU / BHAVANAM • Nayar’s authority - IDAM. • Raja lives in a KOVILAKKAM / KOTTARAM
  12. 12. Three Types of Chala All Chalas show typical spatial configurations of living and inner space. (left) Chala in Chengganur, South Kerala; (middle) Chala in Waynad and (left) Chala in Trivandrum
  13. 13. There are five types of traditional domestic architecture or Veedu in Kerala, namely: • (1) the wretched humble house, unknown by any building treatise of Kerala, belongs to ordinary folks and tribal people/ adivasis (cheri, chala, kudi, variyam or pisharam or pumatham); • (2) the Ekasala, an I-shaped single rectangular hall house, belongs to farmers or middle-class non-farmers; (3) the Nalukettu, a courtyard house, belongs to landlords; • (4) the great mansion Ettuketu and Patinjarukettu (double ettukettu) or much bigger structures, belong to very rich landlords; • (5) commoner houses are simple ordinary houses scattered abundantly in the cities and villages.
  14. 14. • Literally, the local term of house--veedu--means home and signifies no important structural arrangement. Classical Indian architecture acknowledges a concentric arrangement of buildings and a generic spatial structure of the sala or hall. • The Ekasala is a single hall house, • dvisala a two-hall house, trisala a three-hall house, and catusala a four-hall house/courtyard house. • The Nalukettu is the only local term for house that implies structural importance since it is associated with the catusala. There are no local terms for dvisala, trisala and ekasala, they are simply called veedu.
  15. 15. (upper- left) The Ekasala of North Kerala. Mostly they are shingle hipped roof houses (upper-right) The Ekasala of South Kerala. Mostly they are shingle bent roof houses (bottom) The Kuttikettu or Ekasala with courtyard extension
  16. 16. Three Typical Expression of Nalukettu Central Kerala (above), North Kerala (left-bottom), South Kerala (right-bottom)
  17. 17. The Nambudiri Illam • They are concentrated primarily in Trichur, Palghat districts in south Malabar, • As small clusters in Kottayam, Cannanore and some parts of North Malabar
  18. 18. Description of the Nambudiri Illam • The illams of the affluent Nambudiri families of Trichur are self contained complex of buildings in a wide secluded compound. • The complex consists of – one or two storied Nalukettu building – An entrance gate (Padipura) – One or more tanks for bathing • Optional buildings such as a Granary, a Kitchen for feeding guests and a Shrine or a Temple itself.
  19. 19. Description of the Nambudiri Illam • There are four wings Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western. • The built structures were on the southern and the western wings • The granary on the south has solid walls of laterite or wood. • The western block is generally raised, open hall with columns which support the floor above. It is here that the official ceremonies take place and the men also learn or sleep • The corner room at the north west is used for storage or for sleeping
  20. 20. Description of the Nambudiri Illam • The kitchen with its adjacent well is always without exception placed in the northeast corner. Since the wind comes from the southwest in Kerala it is the most logical position to ensure the smoke escapes the building directly • The northern side next to the kitchen is used for the performance of the most important ritual of Shredda the human ritual of pouring Ghee on the sacred fire.
  21. 21. Description of the Nambudiri Illam • The puja room is located on the north or in the east next to the kitchen. • The practical reasons for not building on the northern and eastern sides are to allow the escape of smoke and to minimize the chance of an external fire. • The corner rooms were segregated form the main blocks. They are separated by corridors, stairwells and doors going to the outside. These rooms are not considered for rituals and are used as entrance rooms, bedrooms, the delivery rooms (south east corner) or occasionally for storage (north west corner)
  22. 22. Women Spaces: • Women were considered inferior to men and they were not allowed to enter into the main courtyard except for their marriage and at death. • In houses with one courtyard back spaces were added next to kitchen. • Accesses to main pooja room and to one or two bedrooms were only through a back door.
  23. 23. Future expansions: • The additions in the last century show a slow moving towards modern times. • Houses with more than one courtyard were built and expanded without much constraint as the ritual rules applied only to the first courtyard.
  24. 24. Nair Tharavadu of Kerala: • The Nairs are the race of people living in the state of Kerala and constitute 16% of the state population • The concept of the house is rural, located near paddy fields in fenced compounds with palm, banana and other fruit bearing trees with a well or tank for water supply. • The Nair house is also called a Veedoo • The tharavad houses were joint families with 30-40 members in a matriarchial system. • The head of the tharavad was the oldest male member.
  25. 25. Description of the Nair Tharavad: • Security and defence played a vital role in determining the orientation, layout and future additions. • The courtyard and the wings surrounding it from the basic module • The house type is classified by the number of such modules – Nallukettu – four chambers – Ettukettu – eight chambers • Padinarkettu – sixteen chambers
  26. 26. Description of the Nair Tharavad: • The number of courtyards and the house annexes are an indication of the social standing and the wealth of the family. • The principles of siting, spatial arrangement of rooms, choice of building materials, measurements and construction details were based on Vastu Vidhya and Tachhushastram • Nine house types are identified on the basis of courtyards and enclosing wings • 14 house classifications according to primary building materials
  27. 27. Spatial Configuration • It is self contained and introvert complex of buildings each enclosing an open to sky courtyard. • The central courtyard is the focal point of the house • The main rooms are located on the western wing • Rooms on the northern side are used for cooking • The rooms on the southern sides are used for the daily household activities • Steep pyramidal roofs with a 45 degree pitch, deep overhangs, shaded verandas and cross ventilation are a response to intense sun, heavy rainfall and humidity.
  28. 28. NALUKETTU - ENTRANCE NALUKETTU - COURTYARD NALUKETTU - VIEW OF POND NALUKETTU - LIVING AREA
  29. 29. NALUKETTU - VERANDAH NALUKETTU - DINING AREA
  30. 30. Temples of kerela • Temples in Kerala used to be called in earlier times as mukkalvattom. Later they came to be called ambalam or kshetram or sometimes tali. • Temple architecture in Kerala is different from that of other regions in India. Largely dictated by the geography of the region that abounds in forests blessed with the bounties of the monsoons, the structure of the temples in Kerala is distinctive. • The Kerala temple has srikovil as its main core, which usually stands in east-west axis and the plan may be square, rectangular, circular, elliptical ground plan.
  31. 31. • The central sanctum of a Keralite temple is referred to as the Sree Kovil. • It is surrounded by a cloistered prakara, pierced at one or more cardinal points with a gopuradwara. • The cloistered prakaram has a namaskara mandapam located directly in front of the sanctum. This prakaram also houses subsidiary shrines. • A kitchen is located in the south eastern corner of ths cloistered prakaram. • The mukha mandapam is integrated with the gopura entrance. The flagstaff or dwaja stambham is located outside of the mukha mandapam . • The balipitham may be located in the mukhamandapam or in the outer courtyard. The outer prakaram or courtyard houses other subshrines, and optionally a temple tank.
  32. 32. • The Kuttambalam or the theater hall of the Keralite temple is located either as a part of the inner prakara, on the south east corner facing north, or as a separate hall outside the innermost prakaram, either facing into the temple or facing north. This has a stage, raised from the rest of the floor, and a backstage area. This is the site of the performance of Kathakali or Chakkiyar koothu recitals. Thus the kuttambalam plays a role in educating visitors on the rich legends of the Indian cultural fabric.
  33. 33. • The roofs are steep and pointed, and covered with copper sheets. The Kerala roof resembles those found in the Himalayan regions and those in East Asia. • The shape of the roof is in accordance with the plan of the sanctum below. With a circular plan, one sees a conical roof, while with a square plan the roof is pyramidal. • The roof is constructed with wood and is covered with copper plates. Most of the temples seen in Kerala today, have undergone several phases of renovation, given the perishable nature of the construction materials.
  34. 34. • The superstructure as a conspicuous example, shows an accurate usage of indigenous raw materials like timber and tiles to go with the climate conditions. • Vast majority of temples have their bases built of granite, the walls made either of wood, bricks and stucco, or laterite; the sloping superstructure made of wooden planks, tiles or sheet metal on timber frames, are adopted to suit the high rainfall of the region.
  35. 35. Temple and Domestic Architecture • Unlike the other architectural traditions in the mainland the design of Kerala temples shows a close similarity with the domestic architecture of the region. • The surviving Nair houses have many structural elements like raised foundations, wall and ceiling carvings, steeply sloping roofs, etc., that are reminiscent of temple architecture. • The building materials used in the sacred and domestic architecture, viz., timber, laterite, brick and stucco are also the same, and thus create identical textural surfaces.

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