Monday, May 21, 2007

It has spices, it has quiet…

Kumily has places that sell spices, it also has places that sell food and some quietitude. The restaurant at Ambadi is well-frequented by foreigners. Ambadi is a hotel which was built more than 20 years ago and is designed by Laurie Baker. Set amidst the forested area of Kumily, it is built in exposed brickwork and roofed in mangalore tiles.

It is an architecture that knows the culture of Kerala and the people of Kerala. One wall is crafted with brick and stone that make a portraiture of a Kathakali dancer. The rooms have verandahs that are themselves protected by tree canopies. A performing art form that is also now a building art. It lends the façade a textural quality.

Another part of the hotel has a longer verandah that uses for a railing, a mix of unshaped wood from the jungle nearby and a more orderly motif in teakwood. The old trees have been preserved and perhaps more planted. Sunlight filters in through the branches which rest comfortably, sometimes on a wall, sometimes on a window overhang. Here, one does not say, ‘this is building, this is landscape’. They came together and grew together.

Ambadi has also architectural detailing of an exquisite nature. There is the staircase that speaks of the hours of dedication of an artist in wood, there are the carved windows in wood that may have once been part of a tharavad. Laurie Baker often recycled doors and windows into his projects, from houses in Kerala that people chose to demolish to build a lavish, modern home. In this part of Kumily, as in many other parts of Kumily, you see the trees and you hear the birds. You take back with you the smell of spices and the touch of silence.

No comments: