Site specific nalukettu houses for modern living can be certainly designed by a competent architect. Nalukettu, in its original concept, was not meant as stand alone living quarters. It was usually part of a large house and meant for the day use of women and children.
Old ‘tharavads’ were large structures with several rooms. Each family unit (in the case of joint families) had its own quarters (usually a room or two) which were not self contained. The ladies had to necessarily come to the nalukettu for access to the kitchen and other connected facilities. This led to better interaction between the members of the larger family group.
A bit of nostalgia here. In my childhood, when Appan. was in the house the evening prayers were in the prayer room. Otherwise Ammachi (see Oru Desathinte Amma.) and the children said them in the nalukettu.
Shortly after that was dinner. Sometimes Ammachi gave the small children food in the nalukettu. She would roll rice and curries into small balls and mouth feed each one. Food never tasted better and we ended up eating more than we would have on the dining table. Often Ammachi would tell us stories, or sing.
One advantage of nalukettu was that the ladies could keep an eye on what was happening in the‘puras’ (outhouses, each for a specific purpose, like ‘urappura’ for pounding rice) and the kitchen. They could also see the gatehouses and visitors coming in.
Today’s needs are different of course. I suppose a good architect would, before starting work on a house design, study the living habits and requirements of the family concerned. Mr. Laurie Baker, the famous architect (see Laurie Baker - A Tribute.) once told me that his professor used to accept about six assignments a year for designing homes. He would spend considerable time at the clients' residence to study their lifestyle.
I assume that the per square foot construction cost of nalukettu would not be any more than that of other types of houses. But the land value of the ‘nadumuttam’ (inner courtyard) also has to be taken into account while estimating the total outlay.
I am putting off other observations on nalukettu to another post which I plan to do with a rough layman’s design (I am no architect); otherwise this post would become too long. I started writing this as a response to comments on my writings on Kerala architecture. Some of them are listed below:
Kerala architecture: Verandas, corridors of a nalukettu house
Kerala architecture: More on nalukettu
Kerala Architecture: Interiors
Kerala Architecture: Nalukettu, ettukettu, pathinarukettu
Kerala Architecture: Prayer room of a heritage home
Kerala heritage home: grill-work
Kerala Architecture - Olavipe Heritage Home
Lions that guard Thekkanattu Parayil
The House That Grandfather Built.
Interior of a heritage home.
OLAVIPE: Heritage Home of Thekkanattu Parayil Tharakans.