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Small Houses with Big Hearts
My aunt’s house in Saidabad colony is a treasure trove of beautiful childhood memories. I have lived, played and shared space with up to twenty people living in that house during holidays, but not once did it feel small or uncomfortable in any way. Cut to the present - the architect in me wants to explore further to find out what gives such small homes the ability to accommodate several people in relative comfort?
The 1,500 sq. ft. house was built in 1966, on a 400 sq yard plot., The original design had just two bedrooms on the ground floor and a small study room on the first floor landing space. The first floor in fact was built much later, in 2006.
The load-bearing walls of the house are 15 inch thick. Due to the scarcity of cement at that time, lime mortar prepared in sit was used as the bonding material between bricks, whereas cement was only used for the external plastering of the walls. The original flooring was done with Terrazzo flooring tiles of 10” x 10” and a combination of Tandur and Kadappa stones were used for the kitchen and staircase.
The house, built on a South facing plot, has 2 feet wide planter beds along the compound wall. The front elevation has an exposed stone wall next to the main door. The windows and ventilators in the elevation give a certain verticality, which is broken by the continuous horizontal bands of window sunshades. The compound wall of the building is built of stones excavated from the site during construction. On one side of the main door is a black granite platform, a place used by one and all at all times of the day.
Imagine my surprise when I found out the house was designed by the famous Hyderabad architect, Anwar Aziz. The plan is simple and incorporates all the needs of the household. Small extensions to the house like the front lobby room and the garage were added later, but the main house stays true to the original plan given by the architect.
The main circulation path of the house is a single straight line. All rooms open out either to the right or left of the main circulation path. This minimises wastage of usable space. The functional areas thus created are undisturbed by people walking in and out of the house. A separate staircase room near the entrance makes it possible for the upper floor to be safely rented out, without disturbing the occupants on the ground floor.
The room sizes are ideal for the purpose they are designed for. The main drawing room is 12’ x 16’, the dining room is 13’ x 16’, the master bedroom is 15’ x 11’ and the modestly sized kitchen is 8’ x 10’, where many a delicious meal have been cooked.
A small space of 8’x 5’, right outside the kitchen door is again a very useful space. It doubles up as a vegetable cutting area, a breakfast table and also allows people to have a chat with the person cooking in the kitchen. There is a door here that opens out into the utility space on the west side. The utility space has an outdoor hand wash. This side-entry is used by the servants and also children who like to enter the house without being spotted!
- The circulation in the house should not cut diagonally across the functional spaces as it will disturb the people using the space.
- It is important to have good lighting and ventilation in the house.
- Outdoor utility spaces for hand wash, washing dishes and clothes have multiple usages - it can double up as a quick wash up place for extra guests thus easing the pressure on the bathrooms inside.
- Instead of the combined bathroom and toilet, it is more convenient if both are separated.
- A low-traffic, safe neighborhood with wide pavements is equally important. This way, children can stay outdoors safely.
Ar. Gouri M Kasinathuni