S Squared Architects, Skyward home, Residential Project, Sacred Grove, Kerala

A house designed around a sacred grove

In their recent project in Kerala, S Squared Architects allows contextual elements to dictate the design language

The “Skyward” home is located on a 18 cents East facing narrow plot, located in a rural residential area in Haripad, Kerala. The clients approached S Squared Architects to build a home that would be simple, devoid of any pretensions from the outside but comfortable and convenient on the inside.

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One of the challenges that caught the attention of the S Squared team was the nature of the site itself. Aligned in the East West direction with approximately 14m width and 51 m length, the site had a very narrow frontage. Abutting the South East of the site was a “Sarpa kave” which is a sacred groove, specially meant for snakes. Sacred groves in Kerala are considered to be divine and it was forbidden to kill snakes or destroy the flora and fauna of the groove. And over time these would develop to be ecological hotspots and played a key role in preserving biodiversity.


The design developed by architect Shaji Vempanadan of S Squared Architects was a response to this context where the sanctity of the nearby sacred grove had not only to be maintained but also cherished. The duality of the existence of man and nature can be deeply experienced in such groves and the design had to be in appreciation of this duality. A free hand curved wall , divided the site into two zones, the public and private zone. The driveway was located in the public zone and the wall helped to screen the movement of vehicles coming in and going out of the house.


On the other side of the wall was the silent zone bordering the sacred groves and also housing the private garden of the inhabitants. The wall extended further from the un built space to the built space changing roles from a protector of nature to a separator, segregating various functional zones of the house. The wall stands tall rising skywards in silent testimony to this duality, the duality of man and nature, of stillness and movement.

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