Material and Expression: House That Rains Light

Plain Space Studio

The ‘House That Rains Light’ was designed by LIJO.RENY.architects re-imagining dappled shade under the trees, informal kid's play nooks, and gardens with flowers, birds and butterflies, all lost to rapid urbanisation, while confined to a tight plot within a typical residential layout.

Owners, a young couple with their two kids, wanted a house that broke free from conventions, displaying a sense of individuality and character in the spaces that enveloped them, without being a burden on their simple ways of living. They also hoped the building would transcend the small footprint on site and become a multi-spatial/sensory experience for their kids to grow up in. 


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Stereotypes were broken throughout in design, and start right from the entry by avoiding the typical compound wall and gate towards the road. The shaded front yard becomes the parking area, a sit-out and a play area that spills out onto the relatively deserted road when the kids are in a mood for football or cricket, with their friends from the neighbourhood, and a much larger space is needed. A variety of flowering creepers and climbing vegetables are grown onto three large frames fixed on the building becoming the extension of the much-needed garden on this tight plot while providing shade and privacy to the house.


Plain Space Studio

The front door of this biophilic house opens into a spread-out volume that includes clearly defined spaces such as living, dining, kitchen, and a bedroom that can be closed when necessary and several landscape pockets in between them lit by a series of skylights from above. This open layout, which creates a sense of spaciousness in the otherwise small footprint of the building, becomes yet another playground for the kids. The kitchen, though kept private from the entry, extends into the dining to form a multipurpose counter and a study table for the couple who occasionally works from home. A shared toilet accessed from the wash area is tucked under the stairs and the bedroom remains the only closed space on the ground floor.

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The first floor has an open family space with two bedrooms, a common toilet and a balcony accessed directly from it. The skylit courts connect the volumes vertically and horizontally. Birds and butterflies flutter around the seasonal flowers on the green wall, abutting the large external openings of this floor that filter air and harsh sunlight as well as provide security and privacy. Waking up to the simple pleasures of bird songs and various colours, the inhabitants find each day a wonder.


Plain Space Studio

Strategically positioned windows, considering the seasonal shift of wind, ensure cross ventilation throughout the year. The three skylit vertical volumes, the two landscape voids and the staircase shaft, that connects to the clerestory windows at the top, facilitate the stack effect and help control the internal temperature during the hot summers of the tropical south. Streaks of sunlight and moonlight that rain down the skylight change seasonally in length and intensity, making the interiors dynamic throughout the year. The large green walls, that define the façade, extend and cover one-third of the roof to form shaded pockets on the terrace suitable for a siesta or an evening of barbecue and merriment with friends and family.

The materiality of the built structure creates a neutral backdrop for the burst of bright colours thematically positioned throughout the house by means of furniture, soft furnishings, decor and patterns in the flooring. A series of wall art made of candid photographs, arranged across the spaces, stands testament to the colourful lives of the unassuming inhabitants of the ‘House That Rains Light’.


Plain Space Studio




Location: Thevakkal, Ernakulam, Kerala, India
Area: 274 sqm (2,950 sqft)
Architects-Designers: Ar. Reny Lijo and Ar. Lijo Jos
Firm: LIJO.RENY.architects, Thrissur, Kerala 
Landscape Design: Plain Space Studio
Photos: Praveen Mohandas


Plain Space Studio



Flooring: Granite and Vitrified Tiles (Nexion)
Furniture & Artefacts: Rubberband, AKFD, A Wooden Story, Objects of Interest, Lightyears, Kaleido Light Company, Concord Industries and Duroflex
Sanitaryware / Fittings: Gebrit, Jaquar and Hindware
Switches / Electrical Fittings: Legrand, Sony, Bosch, Finolex and Orient
Lights: Corvi
Paint: Snowcem and Asian
Kitchen: Jude K. Augustin
Door Accessories: Hafele, Ebco and Yale

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