Local materials form pirouetting geometric patterns that dance through this home.
Perched amid the urban locale of Trivandrum in Kerala, India, Pirouette House is inspired by the architecture of Laurie Baker, featuring fired brick walls that form geometric patterns that appear to dance and pirouette through space. For this residence, Mr Kiran wanted a place that would give him and his family a secluded space where they could relax peacefully.
To foster a sense of privacy amid the dense Trivandrum neighbourhood, the two-storey house designed by Indian architecture firm Wallmakers uses an inward-facing structure surrounding the central courtyard, which serves as the home’s focal point.
Walls aligned to face the East and the West allow for cross ventilation throughout the main living space, which provide a comfortable environment optimised for the local climate. Glass roof panels above the courtyard welcome natural light into the home and offer a portal into the sky that strengthens the feeling of enclosure.
“Using a no-waste approach, we reused scraps of scaffolding pipes left behind from the construction to form the central staircase and decorative grillwork,” says Oshin Varughese, senior architect at Wallmakers.
“This creative reuse of construction materials creates a minimalist and natural aesthetic throughout the home.”
In the dining area, the architects joined together leftover timber to form the floorboards, which visually separates it from the living area.
For the furniture, they used treated cane procured from the neighbourhood, which also features prominently in the home’s grillwork to create subtle screens for privacy. The combination of sand-coloured cane, crimson bricks and wooden planks, in contrasting light and dark tones, enhance the indoor space with a rustic charm.
“To revive the local brick kilns industry struggling against mass machine production, we deployed a reinterpreted rat trap bond masonry technique for its slanting brick walls, first introduced by Laurie Baker in Kerala,” says Varughese.
“We placed bricks vertically instead of the conventional horizontal position to create hollow spaces within the wall. This technique maximizes ventilation, increases thermal efficiency, and forms an intricate structure that is visually captivating and conceals structural elements to the building.”
A spiral wooden staircase, draped in ivy and surrounded by indoor plants, leads to the first floor, where a series of slanting walls appear to dance left and right and converge to support the ferrocement shell roof. Each staggered wall expands the sense of space while retaining privacy in the upper floor master bedroom.
Both the ground floor bedroom and the master bedroom are minimalist in nature, with inbuilt furniture made of natural materials and crimson-orange bricks that create a warm atmosphere. The master bedroom features a swing made of cane, which is a playful addition to the space.
There is also an informal living room on the first floor where Mr Kiran enjoys working. Adjacent to this room is a door leading to the semi-open balcony, ideal for enjoying the sunset.
Pirouette House is an architectural wonder, integrating local materials and building techniques for a private family abode.