What’s your idea of an ideal home? For Dr Arya Gopi and Joby Joseph, two creative souls from Kerala, it is nothing but a peaceful place that motivates them to pursue their interests in art.
While Arya is a Malayalam writer and an assistant professor of English in Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College who likes to spend time with books and enjoys fruitful conversations, her husband Joby is a former journalist and a businessman at present. Their only child, Jahan, is an artist whose little world is filled with colours.
Today, their home in the Kozhikode district of Kerala exudes pure class and is distinctive from other buildings around it. Their 2,500 square feet two-storeyed house called ‘Journey’, which also provides them with the sense of being closer to nature, is the brainchild of Arya, Joby and their architect, Biju Balan.
In the first few years of marriage, the couple lived in Joby’s native house in Wayanad. Later, they shifted to a flat in Kozhikode. It was during this period that they felt the need to live in a space where they could connect to nature and art. Thus began a hunt for such a space and they spotted architect Biju Balan’s unique house in the city.
“We saw the pictures of Biju chettan (brother)’s house which was built sustainably. We approached him with a long list of don’ts and he took note of all of it. We wanted a house made of reused/ reusable items. No balcony, sit out or use of concrete, with space for a library, an art studio, a courtyard and office were some of our demands,” says Arya.
It was Biju who came up with the idea of using the materials of a demolished ship for the flooring, doors, stairs and other furniture. “Ships made of wood are condemned after 25 years and the material is sold for other purposes. Such wood, which is seasoned in saltwater, is of excellent quality and so we decided to make use of it. It is cheaper and no polishing was done to maintain its rustic look,” explains the architect.
Top-quality red laterite bricks were used for the walls, which had no plastering. Only 20 per cent of the total area used concrete. This includes the kitchen and bathrooms. The roof is made of metal sheets and traditional tiles.
Biju adds here that he quickly understood the importance of creating spaces for this family of artists. “They wanted a wide library, a reading space, a living room which was to be accessorised with shields and awards received by the couple and an inner courtyard surrounded by plants. It took some time but all of these requests were fulfilled,” he adds.
After the construction, the couple was certain about naming the house ‘Journey’, to mark the four-year-long construction that resulted in this sustainable home.
One With Nature
“The 10 cents of land bought for the construction was not a plane surface. It was on higher grounds and we decided to keep it that way. Therefore, one needs to climb five steps before entering our house and two more on the way to the kitchen. We didn’t want to disturb nature by converting it into a planar surface,” says Joby.
The exterior and interior of ‘Journey’ are filled with plants. The courtyard in the centre is the most attractive attribute, rich in air and sunlight. “We spend a lot of time with Jahan in our courtyard. Being here gives us a feeling of being on vacation at a beautiful, scenic site. We also conduct small cultural gatherings here and at our library at times,” shares the writer.
To enable more natural air and sunlight, glasses are placed in most areas including their bedrooms. “We don’t need an air conditioner in the house because it’s very cool inside,” adds Arya.
He adds, “I teach students about the significance of protecting the planet and what is the point if I can’t contribute my share for the cause?”
Biju opines, “The major advantage of constructing traditional houses is the reuse of materials. But with concrete buildings, we have to pay extra for their demolition. In future, when houses like ‘Journey’ are knocked down, more than 80 per cent of its materials can be used for another construction or sold for a good price.”
On a parting note, Arya says, “By building a house designed by someone else, we would be forced to live by an outsider’s concept of a home. So, while constructing a house, make sure that you contribute your thoughts that will benefit you in the upcoming journey of life.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)
Image credits: Dr Arya Gopi/ Facebook