Woven Memories

Every material has a memory that travels beyond the space that it confines. A message translated through time which finds grandeur meaning in life. Age comes with experiences that transcend existence into a defined charm.

The Madras Office for Architects and Designers (MOAD) has infused a new spirit into the old. With a concept that sparked two themes of thought about a house that shapes the built spaces with a delicate touch on earth and exude an ancestral beauty with a courtyard.

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‘Court House’, built on a beautiful site located in a residential locality south of Chennai, is designed as a spatial void with a memory embedded on its exterior and interior. The designer’s intent was to integrate a courtyard into a house within an urban context.

That conveys the traditional essence into contemporary spaces while respecting the values and culture. In order to congregate a meaning between the old and new, the team collected materials from a large number of old multi-generational buildings that were being demolished in the neighborhoods of Mylapore.

They used reclaimed bricks salvaged from the old houses in Chennai which brought a mystifying delight into their composition. Bricks that speak a language of time between 15 to 70 years were crafted into the design of the Court House.

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The exterior expresses the newly formed memory of the bricks in varying sizes from one to three inches that create an enthralling fusion. The elevations expose an architectural interplay between bricks and concrete.

The elemental display of cantilevering sunshades, minimalistic balcony and linear window frames emote a soulful depth. The interior shifts in contrast with the exterior by oxide plastered walls and a spatial void that opens to the sky capturing the reminiscing thoughts of a traditional home.

The entry foyer is flanked by a staircase that protrudes from the wall which leads to the first level. Low seating spaces are provided along the flow of the walls in the entrance and living areas.

A half-wall runs along the stairway at lintel height in the ground level which transforms to a niche that becomes the puja room and later culminates into the kitchen and dining areas.

The corridor then circles around the courtyard with an expansive living room amidst the two bedrooms on either side. Semi polished Mandana slabs on the floor add an ethnic flavor to the overall setting.

The spatial void soars at a steep pitch by the diverse array of bricks that transforms the space summoning an ethereal aura. While the angled corners inside are lit with hanging bulbs that illuminate a warm atmosphere.

The first floor houses the master bedroom with a private library connected to a study and another bedroom which is linked to a private living and pantry. Balconies dive out from these bedrooms towards the east and south.

These spaces are tied by the courtyard which holds the whole house in synthesis. The private library opens out to the courtyard with floor to ceiling window frames made of ‘z’ mild steel sections.

From the open space, a series of vertiginous steps sculpts out from the inclined brickwork that leads to the terrace. While climbing this unusual gradient it invokes a spirit of reaching beyond.

Materials and memory do vibrate through the whole design, empowering the sense of life in every architectural element and space of the house.

Fact File

  • Project Title: Court House
  • Location: Vandalur, Chennai
  • Practice: MOAD Architects
  • Built-Up Area: 360 sqm
  • Design Team: Mahesh Radhakrishnan, Jaya Sriram, Parvaty, Balagopal, Ksheeraja Padmanabhan, Sarvesh Ganapathy, Daniel, Gladson, Anita Fabbiano
  • Structural: Forever Technologies

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