Monday, August 17, 2009

Padmanabhapuram palace,Tamilnadu

Padmanabhapuram Palace complex continue to be the best example of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art. As a follow up to my earlier blog article, let me take you all, into a journey through the palace complex way different from the usual route which discusses the decor and the interiors.

This journey is enriched by the spatial variations in the built and open spaces of the palace complex emerging through the sense of enclosure and intensity of light.

The Padmanabhapuram Palace which I have seen is a Design ensemble in itself,each item being a Decor element,carefully picked and placed.

Here what caught my attantion the most was the syntax of Spaces. One space leading into the other and into another beautifully.....the merging almost seamless....

The modern term used for designing of ‘Spaces’ is spatial design. This term encompasses both interior and exterior design as integral parts of this 3-dimensional design activity.

“Space” is a notional phenomena which shapes and exists by the context. Space making is a sum total of the time and space combination. Space over time is not the same. Similarly time over different space is also not the same.

This constant juxtaposition of time over space is the essential premise of Indian Architecture.

The developed elements l found in this built work: a configuration of space as discrete volumes, complex ambient light and shadow, a celebration of mass and structure, the use of materials which have both modernist and archaic qualities, monumental openings uncompromised by frames, courtyards wrapped around buildings.” 

1.Built-Unbuilt space configuration:

Transcending time and space, good architecture remains communicative and interactive all
the while through its spatial qualities. These spaces possess the qualities to establish rapport
with the on looker and condition his perception, independent of their cultural background.

Timeless, ever pervading architecture rely on more fundamental attributes of space making

ranging from
  • approach and movement,
  • scale and proportion,
  • quality of light and shade or
  • the relationship of the built with the unbuilt.

The visual proportioning of spaces and skilful arrangement of elements provide everchanging
frames of visual compositions through perspectival effects and their strategic visual alignments while one moes through them.

The courtyards of the palace complex are masterpieces in their own right with the buildings enveloping it. The movement through the complex involves one to step out into the open,and then enter the built volume and then again step out and move through the courtyard.

This is a pattern of configuration of spaces one finds in almost all traditional built complexes of Kerala.

2.The Play of Light and Shadows: Light and shadows play a game of Yin and Yang in this serene place almost giving its inner rooms a magical aura. The contrast between the harsh tropical sunlight outside and the soothing light that penetrates into the inner
 spaces through the ubiquitous palisade windows is used to create this almost theatrical effect.

This play of light through integration of unbuilt spaces with the built volumes become mutual counterpoints which help in defining the spatial hierarchies and territories in terms of personal and public realms. The perception of enclosure is further reinforced by the decreasing intensity of light.

The brightness of light subdues asone progresses further deeper into space making the space progressively vertical, cosier and confined. The timelessness is attributed to its freshness offered by the variations of visual frames as well as the integration of light/nature where the sun is the constant variable as it changes position and intensity from morning to evening and from summer to winter.

The conditions of outdoors inherently not remaining same changes consistently making the same space appear different and fresh all times. This makes the static object change with changing outdoor conditions through sun. This inherent dynamism in the character of the spaces is something to learn from. Don't know how many of our modern edifices really deal with such a simple yet powerful tool- manipulating natural light to create a dynamic space.

                 Light through the dormer and palisade windows into the durbar hall
                       The natural light filtering throught he windows in the dining hall
                                   Natural light in the Kitchen
                                   Natural light in the inner rooms,notice,they make a pattern
    The Shadows of the jaalis,its interesting to see them,they add ambience to the decor and style

3.The Transitional spaces:

Transitional spaces that are neither inside nor out but flows in between the two,such as a verandah, a covered terrace or a corridor are important connectors between the open spaces and the built spaces. The bands of windows,verandhas,corridors,pillared connectors between buildings, spaces close to the house are all a part of the experience before it merges into the open space of the courtyard. These enable the air to freely circulate in the building,offer views through and the past the building.
                    The Long balcony in the summer palace and guest house
                                      Closed walkway to the other side of the palace                                                 Open verandah with pillars
                                                   Open courtyard in the house
           Long walkway,balcony in front of the rooms or to the side of it

4.The simplicity vs complexity in the layout: The covered walkway within which the end is not at first seen where “you are always surprised, keep observing new things”. It is this simplicity in the layout which translates into the beauty of the complex. But however simple it may look in plan, moving through the spaces and retracing one's way is not so easy as it thinks

                                                    Open walkways and pillars
                                   Courtyard surrounding the houses
                                   One open courtyard opens to the other
                                    Open window  from the side of the kitchen overlooking the pond
                               Back view of the palace,walkway,lawn,pond ,way to the summer palace

5. The 'Vernacular character

The vernacular character is reflected in the architecture of the complex.The sloping tiled roofs arranged and carefully placed at angles reflect the mountain scapes which surround the palace.

                                                      Front view of the palace

                                                Side view of the Palace

6.Materials: Locally available raw materials are the ingredients and when clubbed with exotic 'recipies' for the detailing.
                                                          Main Durbar Hall

Seasoned wood for the ceiling and pillars,Mangalore tiles for the roofs,Wood for the furniture,Black shiny floors made from a combination of egg white,jaggery lime,charcoal and river sand,carved mahogany ceilings,colored mica windows.

Four poster Medicinal Bed for the Maharaja,Side table to keep the sword and a chair in wood.
Big Serving Vessels in the dining hall.Found in the Dining hall,where the curries are made from the kitchen and poured before serving,made of raw cut granite stone and polished accordingly.
                                        A distant view of the Giant serving Vessels.

6.Climatological response:
The architecture language is a response to the climate of the region.

                                           Dormer windows around courtyard
Rainfall-Sloping Roofs,The windows overlooks a courtyard ,courtyard allows natural ventilation and the womenfolk to feel the fresh air.
                                                Jaalis on Windows to allow circulation of air
                         Big Doors to allow ventilation,since the region is quite humid.

I think I have truly taken all into the decor of an era,the Ancient Kerala Decor style,which is at present in trend.
 I do hope at one time of my life I will be able to reciprocate the finest in decor and construction which I have noticed 
Hope you all did enjoy the time in that era...
Will bring lots more later....

All pictures are protected and copyrighted ones.PL dont steal images.If found is punishable.If you need images .All copyrighted images of Lakshmi Arvind and self clicked.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Decor of a bygone Era - Part I

The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most magnificent monuments of the erstwhileTravancore Kingdom. It is situated in Kanyakumari district, 15 km from Nagercoil,Tamilnadu and 55 km South-West of Thiruvananthapuram.

The Padmanabhapuram palace was the seat of power of the rulers of Travancore.The name refers to the image of the lotus coming form the navel of Vishnu(Padma-lotus,Nabha-Navel,Puram-Town)

The palace is known for its planning and military architecture and remained the center of power till 1790, when the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram.

The main attractions of the Padmanabhapuram Palace are its sheer aesthetic beauty, murals, innovative designs and time tested wooden carvings.

Palace complex continue to be the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art.

The complex consists of individual structures linked by corridors, colonnades, verandahs, courts constructed of teakwood and granite and stands,courtyards within the massive stone walls of 30 ft which kept Tipu Sultan at bay in the 18th century.
Exquisite wall paintings, fascinating traditional Kerala architecture, floors finished to a high polish with a special compound of crushed shells, coconuts, egg-white and juices of local plants; sunny courtyards with carvings and sculptures are some of the outstanding features of this sprawling palace housed within fortified walls.

The palace has its main entrance from the west. The 'padipura' or the main gate reached after crossing a large courtyard, displays an ornamented gabled roof.

The 'Pumukham', inside the second court, has a profusely carved rosewood and mahogany ceiling with 90 different inverted flowers, a polished granite bed in one corner and an ornate Chinese throne.

There is an audience hall on the upper level of the two storeyed building with circular wooden columns and angled timber screens to let in light and air.

Ootupura or the dining hall is adjacent to the third court.Over 2000 meals were served free meals in this grand dining hall ona daily basis. Each storey accomodates 1000 people and there are two storeys.

The third court marks the beginning of the private zone of the palace. Here, on the north of 'Pilamottu Kottaram' is 'Upparikka Malika' (upper storey) or the Perumal Kottaram.
Its four chambers, arranged one above the another, connected by steep steps, served as a treasury on the ground floor, the royal sleeping chamber on the second floor, the royal meditation chamber and shrine room on the fourth floor.There is also a four poster medicinal bed of 64 ayurvedic healing woods here, many presented by the Dutch.
On days of penance, His Highness took rest on the third floor, which also served as his prayer room.

The 18th century Kerala murals on the walls remains unblemished even after centuries and surpass even those at Mattancherry palace in Kochi.

The huge guest house and also adds up as a summer palace ,stood grand in front of us.Another architecture marvel.

Navaratra Mandapam an imposing granite structure is probably the most beautiful part of the Padmanabhapuram Palace.
*Each room in the palace has its own characteristic style.
*A tour through the maze of 108 rooms leaves one breathless at the artistic expression and sheer opulence of these magnificent rooms.
This post is just a birds eye view of the Magnificient palace which will leave a long lasting experience.
Wait for more details of the Palace in the next post.
Read more experiences in Celebrations of Life

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