Houses

Houses

Bicholim, Goa, India

Housing

The traditional typologies present some differences between Hindu and Muslim houses. These are nevertheless only noted internally, in the organisation of the building and its daily use. The Muslim house has the adjacent well next to the kitchen and water is Courthouse Photo: Alice Santiago Faria brought in through a window duly protected by a low shed, sometimes almost putting the well opening inside. The laundry and bathing zone is associated to the well with access solely through the kitchen and therefore no direct access to the exterior. The space reserved for women in this house’s social organisation has a subtle sense in this typology. Contrary to other Goa towns and villages, the patiohouse typology was not detected for either Muslim or Hindu families. What prevails is the hip-roofed house with the bare outline of a central turret (just a straight elevated continual opening to ventilate the central room). In Bicholim town the turret space is what typologically orders the house’s hierarchy. From the construction standpoint, rammed-earth prevails in the older houses, especially in surrounding villages such as Lamegao, Naroa and Assnora. But the newer constructions are in laterite ashlars. Square or rectangular turret houses are also common, as well as some clusters of houses with gable roofs. Notable for their architectural quality and size are the houses in the Hindu village of Naroa, with its imposing temple of Sri Saptakotesh War. The houses of the dominant families are built of rammed-earth, generally plastered and with at least one façade painted. They stand on solid laterite bases that sometimes bear geometric relief work, such as the expressive example of the house belonging to the Chandrakant Narvekav family. The porch served by an ample staircase with expressive columns is an integral part of the façade and lends the construction a noble air. These houses have a large rectangular central turret, whose rules of proportion, constructive aspects and architectural expression are associated to the ‘temple houses’. In that typology the turret is inhabitable and has an interior wooden staircase which accesses a large upper floor with six windows in the room. In the intermediary houses the turret may include a set of logs, poles and boards above 2.50 metres which enable this platform to be used for storage, accessed by a moveable ladder. In such houses the carpentry work is very well executed, both the assemblages and some details associated to the roof and porch frames. The furniture is likewise wooden; notable are the beds and trunks. Also significant is the wooden frame placed in the room, which houses Hindu divinities during religious festivals, like an embellished float. After such events it is raised and hung from the ceiling. Typologically, the house is developed around a central space, around which radiate bedrooms, spaces to store household implements and other goods, and the kitchen with its traditional ground-level oven and some indispensable utensils for preparing food, among them the rogddo for crushing spices, the fator for grinding, coconut graters, the adoi for preparing fish and the bendul for transporting water. Eating generally takes place in the kitchen sitting with crossed legs; but in larger houses tables and chairs are used. These are examples of villages with a large degree of social cohesion, with temples representing a very old culture, such as the small Maruti Temple in Advalpali (Assonara), whose figures and geometric friezes in red ochre cover façades and interior walls. The small galilee/porch reveals the probable origin of several architectural features which characterise some of Goa’s traditional architectures. See the explanation given on page 82.

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