Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back to nalukettus?

The revival of interest in the old Kerala style nalukettu houses (structure on all four sides around an open space called nadumuttam in the middle) is quite amazing. I had posted several articles and photos on the subject and they still draw many visitors. That must be so too for other bloggers who also handle the subject, and for architects. 

Two of my popular articles on nalukettu are, I think,

This is Thekkanatt at Olavipe one of the five existing Parayil Tharakan Heritage Homes, Cherthala Thaluk. The other four are larger, older and ettukettus. In this building the single storied portion is the nalukettu. The second picture is of the eastern veranda of the nalukettu where local women normally come to meet the ladies of the house.

Anyone planning to built a nalukettu should first understand that this type of houses were meant for a different era, diverse lifestyle and a social system that was so contrasting to what we have today. Only people of a certain status could build a nalukettu, ettukettu and pathinarukettu. There were even rules about who could enter the house and which part.


Even within the family normally the women dominated the nalukettu side while the front area was for the men. They were meant for large families to live in with an army of servants to support them, starting at dawn with ‘muttamadi’ (sweeping the compound). They are so far removed from the nuclear houses we see mostly now.

Are large buildings with nalukettus going to be part of the changing scenario? Even if you build one of them, where would you get the employees for the upkeep? The solution is to have scaled down, space fully utilized structures, a kind of fusion of the old and the new. This requires quality architects.

Size of the nadumuttam would have a considerable effect on the cost of the house. The bigger the inner court, the larger would be the built up area around it and therefore the cost. Start with a reasonably sized open space in the centre and start planning around. Depending on the size of the nadumuttam (open space within the building) the built area and therefore the cost would be more.

How many bedrooms on the same level can you have in a nalukettu? You can have normally two, three or four. The design possibilities are many depending on the money you are willing to spend, the land you have and the conveniences you want.

Recently I stayed in the modified portion of an old nalukettu for a few days. The ambiance was beautiful. I simply had to congratulate the young lady architect who did the work.

I have seen advertisements of individual villas/gated communities of nalukettus. Wonder how they are to live in.

(Photos copyright reserved. Click to enlarge.)

No comments: