My post Kerala Architecture: Nalukettu, ettukettu, pathinarukettu keeps on attracting so many visitors that I thought more information on the subject would be appropriate. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the term, nalukettu means an open inner courtyard (nadumuttam) with built up area all around. The literal translation of nalukettu is ‘buildings on all four sides’.
The photo above is that of our nalukettu at Thekkanattu Parayil, Olavipe taken from an upstairs window. It gives a fairly good idea of the layout. The traditional nalukettus were either rectangular or square. I have not come across nalukettu of any other shape in old houses.
What is the purpose of a nalukettu? I can only comment based on my experience. The functional parts of it are the verandas on the western and eastern sides. Because of the excellent cross ventilation these always remain cool. Another reason for this low temperature effect could be that the hot air keeps escaping through the open roofless space in the middle.
There is an old neem tree opposite to the western door across the outer courtyard and the breeze that blows in from the
The nadumuttam is an excellent place for little children to play safely, say, like a large pen. It is also used to keep vessels like cauldrons which are not in regular use. Those which are in constant usage would be at the places where they are required, and those which are rarely needed, would be in the attic. The nadumuttam also provides good lighting to the built up space around it.
But above all, nalukettu is the living area, traditionally for the ladies and children. Now of course men also use the comfortable verandas. I am giving below two photos to indicate the use of nalukettu as the living room.