Curating Evolution of Poombarai Settlement | SWS 002

Project Field : Architecture
Project Year : 2018
Project Type : Competition Entry (NASA 2018 LIK Trophy)
Institution : Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai
Team Members:
Vidhushyaa; Sowjith; Maoulieswaran; Akeel; Amritha; Gayathri; Gokul; Subraja; Ishwarya; Renga; Deepak; Jeysadhana; Marugananthavalli; Prasath; Kirithika; Nikil; Vijay

Disclaimer : Project text and work is provided by the rightful owners to Design Terrains. It cannot be used for any purpose without permission.

About Poombarai

The Poombarai settlement in Tamil Nadu, India is rich with its contextual architecture addressing the contour, climate and the spiritual background that supports the village’s functioning. With caste based initiation of settlement pattern, the ownership of various spaces for various generation of user is very unique

The site selected is group of dwellings in Poombarai . The street activity being the major focus to differentiate . The linear clusters, street was studied based on the interiors of the houses in them , for instance , the presence of chairs or bed space anthropometry played a major role in the street activity.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.
Evolution of Dwellings

The Evolution of the dwellings over years has significant role on user requirements. This change in typologies are mainly due to various factors like climate, comfort, skill, strength and availability of materials. The first dwellings typology is Alaku Kutchi, made of twigs and mud. Later Muthaliyars started constructing in stone, which showed their wealth. During British influence , natives became exposed to new materials and construction like wood and glass .Currently, suiting current context and economy, Bricks are being used, as it is cheap and easily available.

Usage of Planes
  • The Roofing of most houses are Slope, covered with Terracota tiles and decorative Eaves. The artwork and decorations denotes the economy of the user.
  • The Roofing is not supported by the Truss. Instead the Mud walls supports the Primary and Secondary Rafters directly with the Corbel stones mounted at the top portion of the wall.
  • The Vertical Plane is used for firewood and other storage purposes. The lowered volume indirectly makes the space warm, also the heat from the kitchen area helps to dry the harvested garlic.
  • The walls are constructed using locally available mud , reinforced with tensile wood material.
  • The floor plane is always kept clean and almost all the materials used, goes to the storage in other horizontal and vertical planes so that the floor plane is usable to maximum.
  • The obsession towards vessels is one unique factor for the Village that enhances the interior. This character had been one among the most important and inevitable ones in the characteristics of the dwelling.
Poombarai. Src Project Team.
Type I – Ravi’s House

Area: 65.9 m2
Building Materials: Alaku Kutchi and Bricks
User: The number of users are 10 (3 families)
Occupation: Farming

The housing unit is divided into 3 parts.  The increase in family lead to the partition of spaces for their generations. Two houses has compact planning with living space. One at the left, has bed space in front and kitchen space at back, due to linearity. There are shelves for storage in brick house while overhead planes and lofts in other two houses.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.

Type II – Saroja’s House

Area: 25.41 m2
Building Materials: Stone-Random Rubble
User: The number of users are 3
Occupation: Farming

The house is compact and does not have storage space or loft inside. Instead there is a storage room outside the house for heavy goods and firewood. Anthropometrically speaking, the bed space doesn’t have adequate room to carry out other activities, due to closed position of shelves above. There is private toilet annexed later.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.

Type III – Sekar’s House

Materials Used: Bricks ,Hallow Blocks and Stone
User: The number of users are 11 (3 Families)
Occupation: Farming

This House is a live example of “Evolution Of Linear Clusters”. The dwelling space is modified later due to increased number of occupants. This house is occupied by 7 users. Their occupation is farming ,which can be perceived just by observing the interiors and elements.

Initially structure was built with stone. Later partition is done using Varicha kutchi. Currently bricks and hallow blocks are used along with concrete structures. This house has three types of volumes added and subtracted to it. It  has thinnai outside with direct exposure of the sun , leaving it more heated and creates a comfortable environment for the users. Moreover this space acts as a dish-washing area and other daily activities. Most of the time this space acts as a leisure.

This house has a stair added to its form in its front . This added structure acts as a visual barrier for the people sitting in this area. The staircase acts as a surveillance factor through which people can have a look although the street. This house has a subtraction of space in its volume in its front annexure this provides a private feel for the users inside the house . This house being the fusion of almost all the three major materials present in the settlement for the construction. This house is a good example for the evolution through spaces. The large storage space in the in mezzanine and the decorative details depict that they are the oldest of the built houses in the Neduntheru.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.

Type IV – Somasundaram’s House

Area: 170.04 m2
Building Materials: Stone, Wood and RCC
Users: Number of users is 6 persons
Occupation: Farming

Planning and Massing, both are made in consideration with topography of the site in varying levels. Combination of various colours are used in the elevations with intricate details. This House is constructed in such a way that it enhances connectivity between streets. This house has various patterns and decorations both in plan and elevations. The elevation is composed of multiple colour choices, miniature motifs and intricate panel designs.

Beneath the rear end wooden storage unit, there is a small dwelling for another family. This part of the house faces the back street. The dwelling is covered by RCC ceiling with 4 columns for stability and to support structures above. The interiors of this space is enhanced by stacked vessels and intricate wooden carvings in the supports for storage and shelves. There is a toilet space annexed in front by bricks.

The level above the main room is used for storage purposes and also to accommodate guests. This wooden floor level is accessed using the ladder in the main room. This space extends out creating a balcony in the elevation. The balcony has handrails composed of wooden frame with intricate details with pillars mounted on them supporting roof.

The house has typical planning with cooking and bed space in front. The inner room has utility space at corner, a bed space, and walls with storage spaces. The entire house has one central axis connecting two streets. The rear end of the house, enclosed by wooden windows and panels, is used as a storage space.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.

Type V – Mannadiyars’ House

Building Materials: Wood and Stone
Users: Number of users are 12 persons
Occupation: Large scale farming
Unique Features: Only house with glass in the selected site. Only house with “Ashlar fine masonry” in order to stand unique from the rest of the surrounding houses.

Belongs to Mannadiyars, the oldest community to start living in this region. The wooden balcony annexed at higher level is ornamented with materials available during British rule. This shows the wealth and superiority of the users and their generations.

Initially the house is divided into 4 parts for 4 families. The partitions are made in both ground and first level. There is a small storage space for families in first floor. The access to first floor is by the stairs located outside the house due to lack of space inside and increase in occupants. Besides stairs was a storage room outside the house under the roofing. The storage room is covered with RCC slab over stonemasonry without columns leading to collapse. Now the space is used for open firewood storage. All families share one common toilet in front.

Balconies were covered and decorated with wooden motifs. Staircase served as an incidental activity development space. Since its in open area, serves as a gathering spot. The wood material is focused widely on balcony. This is due to low self weight of wood resting on support below.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.

We thank Vidhushyaa and team from Thiagarajar College of Engineering for participating in the Student Works Series.

If you are a student as well and interested in sharing your work at our platform, visit the Student Works Series page for details.

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