Take a French detour in India with this reposeful getaway in Tamil Nadu by Architecture Interspace

JUN 7, 2023 | By Dyumni Pandit
The open living room and the dining area are divided with a concrete wall. The interiors have a material palette made of polished grey oxide walls and black natural cuddapah stone flooring here. The living room houses a beige and rosewood sofa from Wooden Street while a mango coffee table is from a local shop in Auroville. The furnishings, planters, and wall art are all from FabIndia, Amazon and Kalpane; Photography by Yash Jain
The exposed red bricks of the home are inspired by nearby village’s use of red earth soil to nourish agriculture in the area. The courtyard leads to the pool area through here for a relaxing Sunday afternoon; Photography by Yash Jain
This is a bird’s eye view of the home that shows the L shape of the house, the courtyard, and the pool area. The pool’s glass mosaics are by Italia; Photography by Yash Jain
This is the view of the rectangular courtyard that surrounds the L-shaped house. Every room opens into the courtyard through glass windows. It leads to the pool area; Photography by Yash Jain
The entrance gateway is minimal and blends with the lush foliage. It’s a contemporary interpretation of Indo-French architecture. The gates are CNC laser cut mild steel sheets while the steps are topped with flamed black granite and oxide planter boxes sourced locally from Auroville; Photography by Yash Jain

Other than introducing India to croissants, the French also left clues of their design and architectural tendencies on the eastern coast of the country during the colonial period. What has since then evolved and taken an emblematic identity for the many edifices, dominantly seen around the lanes of Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, has inspired yet another home with deep-rooted architectural traces. Architects Goutaman Prathaban and Madhini Prathaban of Architecture Interspace, crafted this quaint abode between the experimental township of Auroville and the French town of Pondicherry. Spanning 3,750 sq ft, hints of Indo-French architecture trickle into a contemporary theme. 

“The house was designed to reveal and glorify the surrounding context and the local Indo-French architecture. The weekend getaway was designed to serve the needs of the homeowners based in the United Kingdom and give them a sophisticated yet earthy abode,” reveal the designer duo. 

The four-seater dining table has been locally sourced from Auroville and made from cane and Kalimarthu, a locally available wood. The open kitchen accommodates handmade Athangudi tiles while the cabinetry is of waterproof plywood clad with matt black laminates. The traditional Indian figurines have been sourced locally from an antique shop while the kitchen accessories are by Ebco; Photography by Yash Jain


The beige rosewood sofa in the living room is from Wooden Street and the mango wood centre table is from a shop in Auroville. The walls are polished with grey oxide and the flooring is of natural black cuddapah stone. The furnishings, planters and art pieces are from FabIndia, Amazon and Kalpane; Photography by Yash Jain

Sloping roofs and steaming chimneys

The French East India Company transformed the small fishing village of Pondicherry into a major trading port and also a living illustration of French architecture between 1664 and 1954. Reminiscing a blend of colonial French and classic Indian architectural characteristics, the city sees vibrant houses with lean-to roofs, embellished thresholds, wooden pillars, cornices and bedecked parapets. 

The French used tall columns to uplift sloping roofs with shutter windows, dormers, chimneys, and rounded towers or gables. Drawing on these ideas, Goutaman and Madhini use brick walls, ornamental doors, and an open courtyard to imbibe these elements. Who knew brick exteriors would complement verandahs? 

Glass windows by Saint Gobin connect the living spaces to the courtyard to bring the outdoors inside; Photography by Yash Jain

Expansive yet cosy 

However, Architecture Interspace sought to go beyond and not just focus on making these elements the crux of the architecture. Instead, they opted to plan the home to benefit nature while considering tropical climatic conditions that are a parcel of living by the sea. 

“We studied the climate mitigation factors adopted by traditional Indian and French courtyard houses and derived the layout for the home,” remark the two. As expansive as the outdoors are, the indoors are equally warm and snug. The red earth soil that the home is built on sustains surrounding horticulture to underline its beauty. 

The courtyard accommodates lush foliage as a spiral ornamental staircase leads to the terrace. A stone pathway leads to the pool area; Photography by Yash Jain

Through the courtyard

As floating leaves bob up and down in the circular pool, it splits into half to escort you into the L-shaped dwelling. Tall trees hunch over the entrance towards the centre as if bowing for a traditional Indian welcome. Embellished matte black doors open into the rectangular courtyard that encompasses the abode. The netted walls of the courtyard sieve the blaring sunlight into soothing yellow hues to complement the interiors. 

The courtyard leads to the pool area for a refreshing experience of taking a dip amidst lush greenery. The pool’s glass mosaics are by Italia; Photography by Yash Jain

Every room opens into the courtyard while a separate entrance leads to the pool and party lawn, perfect for small get-togethers. A swim-up bar sits on the side. While the shape of the house is contemporary, its design is raw, almost unfiltered, with natural elements rising to prominence. Red brick walls complement the lush greens in the courtyard. An ornate spherical staircase leads to the terrace as creepers decorate the walls. 

Into the core 

As glass windows open into the dining area and kitchen, wood panelled windows by Fenesta allow abundant light into the space. Although matte black flooring covers the floor, every area has patterned black and white tiling to enhance the most important aspects of the room. The dining table and granite breakfast countertops sit on these tiles. 

Although in the same space, the two rooms have their own essence. While the kitchen uses polished black and white furniture, the dining room wood’s natural browns. Bespoke gold chandeliers and polished brick walls unite the two rooms seamlessly. 

The master bedroom has bright colours to juxtapose the grey oxide and red brick walls. They also feature traditional wooden cots; Photography by Yash Jain


The bedroom has a small study space in the corner that is attached to a wardrobe. The decor accessories are from Home Centre and FabIndia; Photography by Yash Jain

An unfiltered cement wall made with Ultratech’s ready mix concrete divides the living room and dining area, breaking the monotony of the red bricks. Simple wooden furniture decorates the room as a swing gazes at the garden, personalising the room. Long sleek hallways lead to the bedrooms and bathrooms of the home as lights by LED Lum brighten the way. 

Earthy vs Modern 

The architects use natural elements like exposed red bricks to connect the home to the outdoors. “The bricks are inspired from a unique feature of the village – the red earth soil which nourishes agriculture in the area. The bricks are locally sourced,” the designers explain. Goutaman and Madhini make the conscious choice of using a muted material like waxed natural cuddapah stone (black limestone that gets its local name from Kadapa, a city in Andhra Pradesh) for the ceilings and floors to draw attention towards the interiors.

The architects use exposed red bricks for the building inspired by the nearby village’s use of red earth soil to nourish agriculture in the area. Fresh greens surround the home that lead to the pool area; Photography by Yash Jain

The earthy outdoors don’t prepare you for the charming indoors. The classic black and white contrast meets traditional Indian decor pieces with vibrant colours. The architects create a balance between a rustic and modern theme by polishing the raw to fit into urban interiors well.

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