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Competition: Eco-friendly Villas, Kerala

A design competition has been launched for a series of eco-friendly villas near historic Thrissur in Kerala, India (Deadline: 30 June)

Backed by Caletal Developers, the contest seeks proposals for 420m² environmentally sustainable dwellings for a rural site close to the village of Cheruthuruthy.

Open to students and professionals, the contest will select designs for landmark units in the next phase of the firm’s Orchid Village development which started on site last summer.



Source: Caletal

Orchid Village under construction

According to the brief: ‘Caletal Developers, with an experience of 20 years in the field of construction, is all set to gift homes that suit the tastes and budgets of every home-seeker.

‘With a major part planned and done, we now move forward to see how artistic engineers and passionate architects (or anyone who is talented) interpret our eco-friendly budgeted villas project – Orchid Village.’

Formerly the centre of the Cochin kingdom, Thrissur is the cultural capital of Kerala and is famous for its historic temples, ancient academies and spectacular religious festivals known as Poorams.

Located on the banks of the Nila river, Cheruthuruthy is a popular scenic tourist destination near Thrissur featuring eco-gardens and an ayurvedic spa retreat.

Orchid Village

Orchid Village

Plot plan

The competition site is a short distance from the Jyothi College of Engineering and Technology. The Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture – an acclaimed centre of Indian performing arts – is furthermore around 16 kilometres away.

The Orchid Village development will feature solar street lights, a club house, badminton court, half-basketball court and children’s play area.

The developer has also planted 250 trees on the site in a bid to maximise the amount of green space.

Teams must include up to five members and proposals must feature at least four bedrooms alongside a hall and kitchen.

Entries will be judged on the quality of natural lighting, the architectural response to the eco-friendly environment, and the interior and exterior quality.

Submissions should include a concept with floor plans, 3D elevations and a cost estimate.

The winning team will receive 50,000 INR and a second-place prize of 30,000 INR will also be awarded.

How to apply


12pm local time (GMT+5.30) on 30 June

Contact details

Caletal Developers
Panjal Road
Near Jyothy Eng College

Tel: +91 8943 62 62 62

Visit the competition website for more information

Visible Studio case study: Q&A with Piers Taylor

The founder of Invisible Studio discusses designing a low-environmental impact workspace near Bath, UK

The Invisible Studio

How did your Visible Studio project respond to its immediate context and users’ needs?

The building is a studio for my practice Invisible Studio. It is in an ancient woodland and the studio was constructed using only non-indigenous trees on the site of the building, and the trees were felled as part of the woodland management plan. The studio relates to its immediate context by using this ‘waste’ material and also providing the users with an immersive experience of being in the forest, at the level of the canopy. It creates an inward-looking environment for reflective practice in a valley that otherwise has spectacular open views.



Visible Studio by The Invisible Studio

What material, structural, spatial and other techniques are available to designers seeking to achieve a similar impact?

The building is an exercise in frugality. The windows were salvaged, the insulation bought cheaply as rejected ‘seconds’ and pieced together, and the only timber used was that which was grown on site, and could be milled in two days.



Visible Studio by The Invisible Studio

In addition, the project was an exercise in upskilling local people. The studio was made by people who had no carpentry skills and had never previously constructed a building. It was designed as a didactic building to teach the principles of carpentry, with minimal drawings. All of their work was left exposed, including the ‘mistakes’ which were celebrated as part of the architecture.

How would you set about designing an eco-villa which responds to the unique climate and culture of Kerala?

It is important to design a building that draws on the wisdom of local materials, resources, skills and techniques, instead of imposing an architecture on an unsuspecting local population. There is always an extraordinary wisdom and sensibility in local vernacular traditions, that often understand weather, climate, season, material and customs. With this, it would be beneficial to use a building as a device to provide new skills to a region, that will contribute to an ongoing local economic sustainability. A project like this needs agile, light touch architecture where the consequences of building are greater than merely providing a beautiful object.



Visible Studio by The Invisible Studio