This 4,200 sq. ft. Home Corroborates with the Materials and Techniques of the Past to Curate a Warm Habitat

Brick is a material that, when exposed by default, is attached to one name; the celebrated architect Laurie Baker. This home too, with its minimal palette of materials and airy spaces, balances modern and traditional styles while referencing the Gandhi of architecture.

This 4,200 sq. ft. Home Corroborates with the Materials and Techniques of the Past to Curate a Warm Habitat

Madurai, also known as the ‘temple town’ of Tamil Nadu, is where the skyline faces a divine intervention by towering Gopurams, which were bequeathed, as a corroboration of the legacy of the ruling reigns. In Hindu culture, Gopurams are towering pyramid-like structures at the entrance of a temple premises. In this city, where traditional and contemporary styles live cheek-by-jowl, Onebulb Architecture firm’s ‘Brick Veedu’ emerges as a cognizance between mutual factions. Dwelling on the past, the bare bones of this home stand as a contrasting example in its surroundings, taking a bow to the celebrated veteran architect Laurie Baker.

“I feel like I’m the mother of this house, that every element you see in this place - the stone, brick, wood, and the plants are not just the materials, a lot of effort, ideas, and thinking is put to curate every part of the house,” says Hemkumar R. of Onebulb Architecture.
Architects Hemkumar R. and Balavenkatesh Palanivel explaining the concept of their Brick Veedu. Watch the complete video on Buildofy.



Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Plot Area

3,376 sq. ft.

Built-up Area

4,200 sq. ft.

Number of Rooms


Completion Year


Vaastu Compliance



The client desired a home that would mimic his pragmatic and spontaneous personality in accurate amounts. “The main aim of the design was to create a harmonious space with the conscious amalgamation of natural materials without compromising the functionality of the space,” asserts architect Balavenkatesh Palanivel of Onebulb Architecture. Consequently, a series of experiments took place in a residential, verdant lab of Madurai, to comply with these objectives. In the process, they resurrected an almost paradoxical clone that features a warm and austere façade depending on one’s location of gawking.

The home is situated in Madurai which is also known as the temple city. Watch the complete video on Buildofy.

From the street ahead, it’s a warm edifice sticking out like a sore thumb, in the poignant, white, monotonous neighborhood, while harmoniously complementing the verdancy that prevails. A mere five steps amidst the cool tinges of concrete and stone, pave the way for a warm wooden portal that borrows aesthetics from the city’s antique loan shark - temples. A wooden door is tormented by intricate carving, to resemble the towering structures and is juxtaposed against a smooth blanket of concrete, “…which gives light to the foreground for enjoying newspaper in the morning,” adds architect Balavenkatesh. It handholds the visitors to the inner sanctum that whispers tales of familial bonds, witnessed by the open layout.

The entrance of the abode takes inspiration from the region's rich cultural heritage. To watch the complete home documentary, click here.


The ferociously treated wooden door opens to reveal a living area that pompously flaunts its split personality, with unequal parts of double-height and normal-height spaces. The double-height part with a bare brick wall, carries the weight of providing light to the space, “We only need the diffused light,” emphasizes architect Balavenkatesh on the climatic constraints of the site brought on by the region it is located in. A rubble masonry wall adjacent to a wall of windows hosts a concert for the speckles of light on its surface, while some penetrate through a nook to reach the dining area. The modest dining area features an uncanny set of ingredients, courtesy of the wooden dining table that seems to be chopped hastily due to its uneven edges accompanied by wood and wicker chairs. A courtyard guarded by two bedrooms on either side sits adjacent to the staircase, becoming an absolute magnet that attracts everyone to flock together. “… so that if you're going or doing anything we have to cross the central courtyard, so the activity happens there,” justifies architect Balavenkatesh.

The open plan layout of the residence imbues a sense of tranquil transparency. To watch the complete home documentary, click here.

The master bedroom sits on its pseudo throne exuding a cabin core vibe, the only proof of it being in Tamil Nadu is the filler slab details flaunted by the ceiling. Descending the throne, to reach the mother’s chambers across, a wall of frosted glass, wood-framed windows becomes the attention seeker, for the book addicts. A space every reader dreams of; sitting by a window with a soft breeze and golden flakes gently caressing one’s face and turning the pages, pushing and pulling one in and out of the wonderland for a brief second. This seating has a feather touch with an oxide finish surface “… and we also thought of an idea, to create a storage inside,” indicates architect Hemkumar R. This idea is also materialized in the courtyard seating and beneath the mid-landing of an uncanny staircase that leads one to an exclusive space.

The master bedroom is drenched in cabin core vibe and sits opposite to the petite courtyard and the sublime mother's bedroom Visit Buildofy for the video of the complete project walkthrough.


This staircase enjoys a brief match of tic-tac-toe between granite slab and Kerala teak, winding it up before it reaches the mid-landing. “The staircase leads to the meditation space on the first floor, which I think is a beautiful space in the house,” chuckles architect Balavenkatesh. This space persuades the visitors to get in touch with the Indian practice of sitting on the floor, thus it is devoid of furniture. It is bathed in golden hues streaming in from the frosted glass with grates and a skylight above. As one sits comfortably to meditate, a Rohtak dome ceiling almost hypnotizes them with its circular patterns and warm auburn hues. A Rohtak Dome is a shallow, almost flat dome that is constructed with brick and mortar to avoid excess use of concrete. “We conducted a workshop, where we called for students… and many people showed up. So, we all worked together and we completed the Rohtak dome,” explains architect Hemkumar R. while collecting the firm’s scholarship in this particular indigenous technique. Coming full circle, quite literally connected by a bridge one has to hike up to a level to reach a reading nook. This nook sits isolated in a corner overlooking the living spaces, sitting on its high horse while receiving light and ventilation from a sleek skylight above. On the way back, a wooden door greets one at the first turn of the bridge, concealing an escape from the interiors. As one pushes the handle, an alfresco terrace offers a sneak peek into the monotonous, verdant neighborhood. Cruising further, it seems like floaters in the eyes, as a jaali brick wall creates a rather private ambiance for the sister’s bedroom.

The spaces on the upper floor are interconnected with a bridge that overlooks the spaces below, while allowing the skylight to spread light to the spaces below. Visit Buildofy for the video of the complete project walkthrough.


A game of musical chairs with materials justifies the unhinged functionality that is achieved in this home. The bricks’ size was manipulated, to achieve the scale, and proportion that was desired by the architects. Cool tones infiltrated the home’s inner sanctum in the disguise of random rubble masonry, stone lintels, and stem stones. The stones used in these random rubble masonry walls are locally sourced. “In Madurai, you won't find broken pieces of stones, you will get them as a whole chunk… every stone has been reshaped to achieve this kind of masonry,” says the client. Trailing in the footsteps of its ‘guru- Laurie Baker’, this home tries various hacks to reduce the use of concrete, the filler slabs employed in the bedrooms bear witness to this.

The rugged warm and cool hues of the dwelling sit together sparkling in the natural light. Visit Buildofy for the video of the complete project walkthrough.

“A house is not just a place you live in, it should enrich and motivate us throughout our life,” recites architect Hemkumar R while cherishing the artifact of their sleepless nights. The Brick Veedu, with its volumes and layers, is much more than just a brick edifice, “We achieved 100 percent Vaastu compliance,” beams the clients. With a warm material palette, instances of customary relatability, and a brief revision of building construction, this home schemes along with its natural surroundings, in the process stealing the show.

While there, don’t miss out on the other impressive contemporary homes in Tamil Nadu and across India. Visit Buildofy for the video of the complete project walkthrough.