A small house with a big heart

15 Dec 2011

PSP Architects' small family house sits on a long and narrow site in an urban setting

The long and narrow site of the Ramachandran house helps to define the nature of the spaces and also the choice of construction materials. The original plot of 75 ft depth and 45 ft width was divided through the centre by its new owners and working with an overall plot width of 22.5 ft, this layout tries to maximise every possible inch in this shorter direction.

The common wall towards the adjoining house on the south is a three-inch concrete skin wall and the outer north side is a six-inch exposed concrete wall, keeping the total width given away to the walls on both sides a minimal 9nine inches.

This choice of walls alone contributes about 150 sq ft of valuable built-up area on this tight site without compromising on thermal mass or allowing unnecessary heat gain, due to the fortunate orientation of the site with its short east-west dimensions and long north face.

As the north face gets no direct sun, it is a good source of natural light and ventilation with its floor-to-ceiling openings. The narrow site posed a challenge in finding ways of bringing together the living spaces in anything other than a linear manner. This is solved by drawing the entrance towards the middle of the site and angling the walls to create wider spaces on the outside.

The angled walls set up dynamic inter-relationships on the inside and influence the outside. Natural teakwood furniture brings in warmth while working in contrast to the exposed concrete and cement finishes visible on the outside and selectively on the inside. The floors are of natural stone on the public spaces of the ground floor, while the first floor is entirely a hand trowel-finished cement floor laid within a grid of timber strips.

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