House in a Grove / STO.M.P

Architects: STO.M.P
Area: 365 m²
Year: 2018
Photography: Prithvi M Samy, Balaji Pandiyan
Manufacturers: Saint-Gobain, Bangalore Tile Company, Blum, Century Plywood, Hettich, Hybec, MyWindows
Engineering: STO.M.P Engineering
Electrical Consultant: Unitec Engineering
Client: Suresh Veerappan
Design Lead: Vignesh Sekar
Team: Sekar, Balaji Pandiyan, Shoba Sekar, Shamini Lakshmanan
City: Chettinad
Country: India

House in a Grove, a residential building designed by STO.M.P in Chettinadu, India, reflects a fusion of traditional Chettinad culture and contemporary ideas. Completed in 2018, this 365 m² home integrates heritage elements with modern design to create an open-plan layout with interconnected spaces. The project uses a façade of terracotta jaalis for thermal insulation and natural ventilation, enhancing the play of light and shadow indoors. Materials sourced within a 50-kilometer radius and rustic finishes further root the design in local traditions.

House in a grove / sto. M. P

Heritage encompasses inherited objects, ideas, culture, and traditions, not just preserving or restoring old things. Chettinad in Tamil Nadu, known for its wealthy merchants, reflects this blend.

However, the Great Depression of the 1920s led to their decline, leaving opulent homes in disrepair. Today, the city resembles a fading painting, with grand but deteriorating homes.

House in a grove / sto. M. P

A home in Chettinad answers this by fusing traditional culture with contemporary ideas. The clients desired a modern home steeped in the cultural essence of Chettinad. Key elements included massing, an open plan, and a hierarchy of spaces connected through corridors and projected eaves, accommodating indoor-outdoor living.

To combat solar radiation and facilitate cross-ventilation, the architects designed a terracotta jaali façade that insulates thermally and allows natural light. Light-wells, façade jaalis, and skylights create a dynamic interplay of light and shadow. The first-floor lounge, made with a filler slab, highlights this effect at sunrise, with terra-jaalis and skylights enriching the interior’s temporal quality.

Rustic finishes throughout the house complement these light and shadow effects. Exposed concrete on the ceilings, marble plaster on the walls, and floors of natural wood, Jaisalmer and Kota marbles, and Athangudi tiles reflect the Chettinad legacy. Athangudi tiles, handcrafted since the British era, incorporate local heritage, and materials were sourced within a 50-kilometer radius of the site.

Even the terracotta pots in the filler slabs were made from soil excavated on-site and deteriorated trees were used for concrete shuttering. The house does not mimic traditional Chettinad architecture in aesthetics or grandeur but draws inspiration from it, forging a new path from these historical roots.

House in a grove / sto. M. P
House in a Grove / STO.M.P 55
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, India

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