A Home Liberated

Project Name: A Home Liberated
Authors: Asylum


An ancestral home is an archetype too frequently encountered in the Indian context. The prevalent positions in popular imagination swing between romanticisation and rejection. Either the house is preserved as a monument to the past, complete with all its flaws and limitations, or it is demolished and discarded in favour of the new, modern and efficient. This project, restored with gentle yet impactful interventions, proposes a third approach: the act of using architecture for a dual expression; that of simultaneous rebellion and reverence. 

Domestic architecture of our past, while being eloquently expressive of our cultural milieu, was also coded with our cultural prejudices. The Indian house was designed to endorse the dominant ideas of caste, gender, and economic inequalities, enforced through prevalent social norms. In an act of rejection, the process for redesign and restoration of this house ‘liberates’ it from the overt spatial gestures of prejudice in the favour of celebrating the beauty within. 

The design process, worked through a meticulous palette of materials– in contrast, and in synthesis with the existing – renders a new lease of life by heightening the spatial and experiential quality of the architecture. Some things change and some remain, some parts are demolished and some added anew with a remarkable sensitivity towards proportions, scale and quality of light within. The process of repair and retrofitting extends qualitatively to grasp the evocative atmosphere specific to this house. 

This project presents a fresh paradigm for renewal of ancestral houses in family possession. Extremely restrained and dichotomous, the design process considers continuity in a delicate balance with newness, the prism of tradition vis-à-vis contemporary manifestations, the familiar vis-à-vis the uncanny, nostalgia in an equilibrium with anticipation, and darkness in a balance with light and therefore, A Home Liberated by Asylum is a Citation Project in The Merit List. 

Images & Drawings: courtesy Asylum; Photographs: © Nibi Thomas

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