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Project location: Mangrove coastal forest, Kerala backwaters, India
Lead Architects: Rita John & Thomas Oommen
Team: Ishita Bhartia
The proposal for The Amphibian re-imagines the idea of living in a forest in the form of a home for a retired couple. An old South Indian saying goes “it is wise to plant a coconut tree when each of your children are born”, for a child may disappoint, but the coconut tree rarely does. Using the tall coconut palm’s planting pattern as a structural grid of 7.5mts x 7.5mts, a hanging canvas parasol shelters below it the home for a retired childless couple in the mangrove forest. The proposal redefines the coconut grove as a structural, cultural and landscape intervention that works both in tandem with the mangrove coast as a natural element as well as in contrast as a human intervention that stands tall above the line of the existing landscape.
The house sits within the delicate ecosystem of the coastal mangrove forest like an amphibian – half fixed on land and half floating on water. The fixed half made with rammed earth provides for the functional aspects of living as well as responds to the need for stability inherent to the human act of making a place a “dwelling”. The floating half is designed to move away from land when the couple chooses to go fishing or feels the emotional need for change, adventure and mobility.
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