Kumarakom Lake House

As the name suggests, the Lake House is a vacation home on Kumarakam lake in Kerala. Its primary feature is its orientation to the waterfront. While all rooms get a view of the lake, the house plan disperses and fragments across the site to indulge the occupant in a permanent feel of the surrounding landscape – a landscape composed of the lake, a canal that weaves through the house, and the extensive garden of banana and coconut palms.


The site, less than quarter of an acre, faced the magnificent panorama of the Himalayan snows. The plan was considered not in the conventional definition of rooms, but as a series of layers each opening wider as the volume of the building descended in the direction of the mountains under a single curving span of roof. The house was built simply as an occupation of land, masonry following the curved lines of natural earth terraces.


A suburban townhouse, the Sarkar house utilizes an exposed brick cavity wall construction to define a courtyard plan focused on two structures – the family house, and the office and library opposite.


The landscape for the house is created as a setting of deliberate division. Courts, gardens, verandah, and water pool are not seen as unifying elements, but are themselves rooms in the landscape. By making walls between them, their independence suggests a spatial experience that is self contained, and intimate, rather than grand and all inclusive. Glimpses of each court, or the movement from verandah to court to garden is controlled by traditional doors and windows, that shut out the larger picture and keep the viewer guessing on his exact position in the plan. Though such division creates moments of disorientation, it also allows for elements of surprise and discovery. Water, ground and wall texture, planting, built in seats and traditional furniture is designed to highlight that effect.