GOI - UNDP Endogenous Tourism Program

a design report
June 2007

Kiran Keswani
architect Bangalore, India

ACTION POINTS for the hardware component of the Thadiyankudisai project are :
1. To acquire traditional houses or buildings from owners who are willing to contribute to the Rural Tourism program, for adaptive re-use as interpretation centre, spice shop, cafetaria, toilets and homestays in both Kodalangadu and Mangalagombu villages. To create a local implementation team that can restore a traditional structure or build a new one using traditional building materials and skills. To begin documentation of Kodalangadu village streets & houses through the assistance of architecture students from the College of architecture in Madurai. To finalise with Coffee Planters on the use of their guesthouses for homestays to visitors on the Thadiyankudisai Spice Tour and to confirm other income-generating hardware activities for the local people that they would like to encourage in their premises, such as cafetaria, nature retreat, etc. To begin upgrading of infrastructure facilities of Kodalangadu village in terms of water supply, electricity, garbage disposal, drainage and sewerage systems.






Finalising the “do nothing” or “relaxation places” in Thadiyankudisai

The “do nothing” or “relaxation places” in Thadiyankudisai SPICE TOURISM project site could be : 1. 2. 3. The village of Kodalangadu with its traditional houses, streets and temple square Coffee Plantations Wooded areas in Thadiyankudisai

There may be three kinds of accommodation offered : 1. 2. 3. HOMESTAYS at Kodalangadu TREEHOUSE in the wooded areas (old KVIC site) Guest house rooms of Coffee Planters or Forest guest house

Local Implementation team to include : Engineer Senior mason Carpenter with traditional skills Local village youth a house in Kodalangadu village


Rest-areas along the route
The route to Thadiyankudisai is in itself very attractive On the way, there could be rest areas planned at : 1. The 5th km from where the ghat road begins. This spot has a beautiful view of the Athoor dam, the sea of coconut plantations and paddy plantations 2. At 6 ½ km from the ghat starting point. It has a large tree that provides a natural shelter. It is required that parking bays for at least 2 cars be organised before finalising this spot for tourists to stop by. Both of these can have a snack & tea stall, and places to absorb the beauty of the hills.


Traditional building materials and construction

The traditional building materials are coconut thatch for roof and bamboo or local wood for walls. How can we use traditional materials in the RURAL TOURISM project? The Snack & Tea counter must necessarily be constructed using these materials. In addition to that, the tree houses that will be built at the old KVIC centre site would require the use of these materials. At the guest houses of the Coffee Planters and the Forest Guest house, there will be outdoor pavilions that will be created with natural wood and coconut thatch or bamboo matting.


Facilities for a home-stay
available along the route

This house has interesting traditional elements of built-form and would make a beautiful homestay also due to its setting in the surrounding landscape. If the owners can be approached with a request to offer a part of it as a homestay. In case this house is not available, another set of houses similar in character may be identified.


Cobbled stone Pathways
on the way to Thadiyankudisai and the Coffee Plantations
Examples of existing stone pathways used by the private Coffee Plantation owners may be replicated elsewhere along the route to Thadiyankudisai and Kodalangadu


a 20-acre site for the ENDOGENOUS TOURISM project
The team that met on June 11th at the site confirmed immediately the government land available. There were some areas which were encroached upon. It is suggested that : 1. The site plan showing exact dimensions of the currently useable area (excluding the encroachments) be prepared. 2. On site, marking of the area earmarked for use be carried out. 3. a Discussion is essential on what facilities can be offered to tourists here. 4. a NATURAL SCIENCE MUSEUM may be planned here. There is such a museum in Kodaikanal. Examples from parks & museums in Europe may be studied to develop an interesting place for nature lovers and spice tour participants. The Kroller-Muller Park and Museum in the Netherlands is a good example to study for development in the Thadiyankudisai area. The proposed herbal garden and children’s park can be a part of this natural science museum.


the SITE for tourism project
Site conditions : The 20 - acre site has rocky terrain and is quite an extensively sloping ground. It has a magnificent view of the hills and valleys beyond. Access : There is at present an access that moves along the compound wall of the Good Shepherd school & hostel building. This is wide enough to be a vehicular access. Infrastructure facilities : Electricity is available. A source of continuous water supply will need to be identified.


the Good Shepherd school & hostel campus

This campus is a good example of what can be achieved in architectural terms using natural building materials. The structures housing the study areas, the stay areas, the compound walls, the steps and the landscape elements all effectively.


the Good Shepherd school & hostel campus – more details

It may be useful to know the source of the stone that is used in the construction of this building and if there are stone-masons in the region who can do similar work.


Existing KVIC centre – a site available for use as

Interpretation Centre and Tree house stays
This site has been initially identified by the NGO ‘SPACE’ for an interpretation centre for the Spice tour of Thadiyankudisai. It is suggested that it also include tree houses which offer rooms for tourists to stay and a coffee shop. The site has a beautiful setting and the tree houses may be built using bamboo.


Traditional village of KODALANGADU
Action to be taken : Village Mapping/ Documentation study to be carried out ( to be conducted by students of architecture, with support from the local government agencies)


Village layout Typical street Cluster patterns House typologies Village square Temple & its surroundings Water bodies Natural drainage channels Maintenance cycle Festivals & the spaces for them Construction techniques of houses & community shelters



Conserving domestic architecture is not about Conserving old lifestyles…


Building materials & their source Techniques of construction Structural concepts Detailing Doors & Windows Spatial hierarchy Building elements – Foundation, Wall, Floor, & Roof Lighting Natural systems of ventilation Storage spaces Rituals related to house construction & sustainability Finishes House decoration


landscape in KODAIKANAL
The landscape at Kodaikanal is naturally beautiful. However, there is much that is manmade and that has been skillfully contoured to suit the natural terrain. This feature of Kodaikanal needs to be replicated also in Thadiyankudisai.


Indigenous architecture in KODAIKANAL

The architecture of houses and resorts in Kodaikanal uses tiled roofs and in some cases, the walls are in stone masonry. Most of the special houses were built over 50 years ago. However, the newer architecture in Kodaikanal also uses local building materials and traditional techniques of construction. Therefore, the artisans for the Thadiyankudisai project may be sourced from the teams who have worked on the Kodaikanal houses and resorts.


10 Ways to ruin a traditional house

a Traditional house in KODALANGADU



Employ people who do not understand or have a concern for traditional buildings
Small “improvements” made by well-intentioned but misinformed owners or their contractors Modern materials & techniques are often incompatible with traditional ones Cement mortar is often smeared across the edges of stones, changing the appearance of the wall as a whole, due to lack of good workmanship


Do not carry out any maintenance
Owners need to clear roofs & gutters of dry leaves Roofing tiles need to be replaced to prevent water/damp from entering the building Plumbing needs to be checked periodically Termite treatment


Use cement in place of lime for mortars
Masonry which is traditionally constructed is bedded in lime mortar & is reliably flexible. Pointing with a hard cement restricts its movement, causing stress in the surface of the wall Cement mortars are also impermeable, that is they do not allow the structure behind to ‘breathe’. Moisture is forced to evaporate through the stone or brick, or in some cases may cause these materials to deteriorate


Extend or alter the house in a manner which conflicts with its style
Badly designed extensions can dominate an existing traditional house either due to its size, style or change in material



Paint or coat surfaces which were originally left natural
Most modern paints are not porous and will lock moisture in the walls. Evaporation is concentrated at cracks, where, if salts accumulate, they crystallize, causing decay. Damp patches may appear on the inside wall as more moisture is forced to evaporate here Hides the original colour & pattern of stone & brickwork

6 Introduce mix-and-match detail
Modern external light fixtures, ornate & fancy door shutters, a grill for windows or balconies that have geometrical & modern motifs Constructing features in the interior or exterior of a house, where they never existed before, or replacing simple, functional details with garish, unnecessary elements

Traditional roof in KODALANGADU

7 Use cleaning methods which damage original surfaces
Abrasive cleaning can damage the surface of stone, brick or timber Taking off paint from doors with use of chemical solutions damages the wood & removes glue from joints


8 Replace original components unnecessarily
Replacing windows, for instance. New windows are likely to decay more quickly than the originals, if these are repaired Old structures that have distorted through an old settlement in the foundation may need repair and not necessarily replacement

9 Position modern services & equipment intrusively
Dish antennas, air-conditioners, if required must be positioned discreetly Electricity wires and telephone cables need to be installed tidily Modern interior fixtures can be painted to blend with the prevailing colour of the wall to which they are fixed

10 Interfere with structural members
Addition of toilets in one-storeyed structures can cause structural damage Removing tie-beams of a roof to create more height can cause the roof to spread & collapse Removing parts of load-bearing walls can also damage the structural integrity of a house


Summing up
ACTION POINTS for the hardware component Finalising the “do nothing” places in Thadiyankudisai

Rest-areas along the route
Traditional building materials and construction Facilities for a home-stay Cobbled stone Pathways the Good Shepherd campus & sourcing the stone and the workmanship Identification of a 20-acre site for the ENDOGENOUS TOURISM project

Interpretation Centre and Tree house stays Traditional village of KODALANGADU
Landscape in KODAIKANAL

Indigneous architecture in Kodaikanal
10 Ways to ruin a traditional house


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