The Courtyard – “Valavu”
The Valavu or Courtyard
The courtyard following the reception and lobby is called the Valavu. It is framed by pillars on a raised platform and intricate carvings on the roof borders. The courtyard boasts of an open design which allows for ventilation and sunlight.
Today this area is popular with visitors as a lounge area where they can relax and watch the rain fall within the house through the open courtyard.
Rooms adjoining courtyard
The courtyard is framed with rooms on two sides, one side is the Paadasalai and one side is a lobby which also leads to dining area.
Intricate door carvings
The doors to these rooms are intricately carved with auspicious images of Gods and Goddesses. Each married male member of the family used to given one of the rooms surrounding the Valavu or upstairs. Today many of these rooms have been converted to puja rooms or storage of valuables from each family.
Design concepts for the region
The open courtyard design provides ventilation and breeze to all the rooms, which is important because this region generally experiences high temperatures. Another design factor in the courtyard was the methods of rainwater harvesting practiced. Huge vessels were placed to collect rainwater from all the corners of the courtyard and the water was used for cooking purposes. The house is designed so that the rest of the rain water is collected and sent to the pond through tunnels. The water from the pond was then used for agricultural and domestic purposes.