The Indian state of Kerala, where the project is located, is the only 100% literate state in India with highest percentage people employed outside Kerala. They have migrated to other countries and Indian metros during the last quarter of 20th century and many of them return to their home town, while their children are still outside Kerala. Many educated youth, leave their elderly parents and continue to go outside as there are not enough job opportunities within Kerala. The government also do not offer any special facilities for these elderly. These returnees and the parents of migrated youth are suffering from isolation, loneliness and health issues and they require support, comfort and togetherness of a community living. The neighbourhood also has many needy elderly who are deserted, but cannot afford a new facility.
This project is visualized as a resort for such retired elderly. The design encourages interaction between the occupants and fosters healthy living through self cultivated organic food, community interaction spaces, meditation and yoga area, plantation area, forest area, activity spaces and open roof walks. Thus the project addresses and takes advantage of the existing social, economical and physical contexts of the region.
The project is located in a Village, 25 kms from Ernakulam, the commercial capital of the state of Kerala. Designed in a land area of 8000 sq m the project consists of 66 cottages, main building with reception and multipurpose hall, a community centre, animal farms and other amenities with a total built up area of 2216 sq m. The staff accommodation and back of house support facilities for the development will be housed in the client’s existing residence outhouse. The development also consists of 13,700 sq m plantation area and 27,750 sq m of paddy field.
Tharakan’s Zephyr Homes was initiated with a new concept of ‘’Back to the Roots’’ by inheriting the rich traditional and social background of the client’s ancient reputed family. Traditional households in Kerala were normally cantered around a main family and their relatives and dependents live around them. This concept of togetherness and community living is translated into the design of this retirement home which brings in the support system and nostalgia of the past while providing resort like facilities, views, activities and amenities. The traditional lifestyle is successfully translated with central hall proposed in the location of the client’s old house, infinity swimming pool and activity area acting as ground level gathering spaces surrounded by 66 close-knit cottages
The cottages are raised on stilts in order to retain the natural water flow. The breeze from paddy field flows through the fish pond, pool and waterfalls, naturally cooling the development. The roof of main central building and cottages are designed to include a 1 in 12 walkway with accesses, vegetated pergolas, adjustable solar panels, meditation platform and fibre optic receivers. This roof walkway starts from community centre & continues seamlessly to sky walk over fish pond.
The chamfered cottages funnel the zephyr through the inter-spaces and across the water screens. The cottage glazing frames, furniture and wall panelling will be from rubber wood retrieved from the plantation. Side glazing of cottages reflect surrounding greenery and water, resulting in seamless merger of cottages and landscape. Closeness of cottages provides maximum safety, interactions and togetherness, whereas roof infinity view to paddy field and skywalk allows privacy and freedom- both essential during older ages.
The community centre is divided with transparent passage that houses the banyan tree with seating around resembling the traditional chit chat junctions. This also gives an opportunity for social service and interaction for the inmates of the cottages. The facility addresses needs of aging population and provides employment for 30 locals directly and nearly 50 indirectly as it consumes a part of local agriculture production. In-house referral clinic at the community centre ensures well being of inmates and neighbourhood.
The facility offers healthy and hygienic life style and well being through excellent air quality, organic food, ample outdoor space and pollution free environment. Water is harvested to fish pond which in turn fills the aquifer and feeds the 3 potable water wells and irrigation pond. STP with ultra filtration provides irrigation water which joins the water cycle and ensures good sanitation. 438 SqM solar panels provide 100% of essential energy needs of cottages and the bio-gas plant provides100% energy needs of kitchen. 95% of constructed area is replaced with roof vegetation of 2150 sq m and 100% utilisation of agriculture land. This along with the fish pond ensures sustenance of life above and below ground. Existing water stream from upper land is guided over green roof to drip down roof slits and received into a water bowl with mosquito eating fish at ground level. Fodder from agriculture is used as feed for Cattle, Poultry, etc, and their waste used as fertiliser and feed for fish after bio-gas production. Mineral and amino-acid rich fish pond water is used for irrigation. Thus the organic farm produce results from a perfect internal eco-cycle.
As evident in the Sustainability Matrix, the total spending is USD.1.83 million, with return of 2.4 Million USD showing an ROI of just over 3 years.
The project is designed with minimum land disturbance while allowing complete disabled access. The concept of ‘Community Living’ and ‘Back to Nature’ is fostered in the design of the development which creates a self-sufficient community producing its own edible consumables and in-house waste usage system. Tharakan’s Zephyr Home engages the inmates and the neighbourhood equally and becomes an environmentally socially and economically sustainable development for all stakeholders and a good model for India.
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