Small wonders

When cost is rising, be it for the land, the wages or building materials, constructing a house seems impossible. Worry not, minimal, small and innovative abodes are here to the rescue

author_img Mahima Anna Jacob Published :  24th June 2022 03:56 PM   |   Published :   |  24th June 2022 03:56 PM
innovative houses

innovative houses

Spending a fortune from life savings for a home is and has been followed religiously by many Malayalis. However, the need to build an abode on a large piece of land now seems to be a thing of the past. As the price of building materials, land and wages have skyrocketed many now prefer to build houses on smaller plots — as small as even 2.5 cents of land!

According to architects, the demand for building innovative houses on a small piece of land, sometimes below 10 cents, has been rising in the past five years. However, building a house in a minimal space is a challenge in itself. It calls for unique designs. In Kochi, there is such a house that would turn quite a few heads — the dream dwelling of noted architect L Gopakumar. He came up with the idea to design a house in the city on 6 cents.

“People wanting to build houses on small plots is not a trend, it is a compulsory option. The affordability factor is an issue, especially while living in the cities,” says Gopakumar. To complement the unique layout of the plot, which was more on the acute side rather than being ninety degrees, Gopakumar added a slanting element to the elevation. Though the structure looks boxy from the outside, it is designed in 2,944 sqft and is more spacious than when seen from the outside. “The biggest challenge was to design a building that is comfortable, airy, and spacious. To achieve this, I had to divide my designs. Inside, it is well protected with minimum openings, that’s why it has a boxy design,” adds Gopakumar.

The common areas have been designed in a semi-open style. Family living, dining space, kitchen, home theatre, and laundry all are visually connected. The family living area and the dining space are part of a spacious open hall. In the formal living area, instead of a concrete wall, the space has been turned into a chic curio shelf with a veneer rafter to ensure privacy. The roofing is made flat for solar panels. The home is also known for its minimal interiors. The bedrooms are also spacious and well-furnished.

Gopakumar’s home questions the stereotype associated with houses built on small plots. “There’s a social stigma, that when you live in a smaller plot, your social status also comes down. More than utility, a house is perceived as a symbol of social status, this has made many go for big homes. If you are a family of 3, design it accordingly and don’t waste resources for the guests who come once In a while,” he says.

According to Architect Arun T G of Graphite Homes, people are now accepting the concept of space utility. As families are becoming nuclear, the houses are designed in a way that brings their members together. When the spaces are connected, it saves time and gives the family the advantage of being closer,” he says.

The architect suggests the idea of multi-purpose rooms. “In this way, the  constructioncost is reduced. A room with a foldable door can be a living space during the day. At night it can be a bedroom by making changes to the same door. Similarly, convertible furniture is also another idea —a  sofa can be converted into a bed as per our liking,” says Arun.

Be open
Arun says by avoiding many walls and adopting an open concept, interiors can become spacious. Avoiding dead spaces and utilising the same in a more useful way would be another feasible idea. “For example, the space below the staircase is a dead space. So one can utilize it as a wash basin counter,” he says. Avoid bulky furniture and heavy curtains, he adds. Earlier, people preferred large bedrooms. Now many are looking for refined spaces by cutting down the area by adding walk-in-wardrobes.

Of the many small plot projects Arun has done, the four cents contemporary-styled house at Nemom, Thiruvananthapuram, is a special one. The house seems to be like a cubicle in the front. “The cubicle is formed similar to an outside sitting area in a cost-effective way. The sitting space is on the first floor, this gives the members the liberty to sit outside fearlessly at night, as it gives a sense of security,” he says.

Youngsters prefer small plots
According to Santhilal, coordinator of the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), youngsters opt for such minimal plots, unlike the older generation. “They aren’t interested in investing a major portion of their income in building a house, so a four cents of land is ideal for them. This demand increased when work from home came into place. After spending a lot of time inside the four walls, the thought of having a house of their own has developed,”says Santhilal.