Verna, Goa, India
The urban structure is of the dispersed type, comprising individual houses surrounded by gardens and small yards, while the bigger homes have large plots of land. The traditional architecture is modest. The elementary typologies of rammed-earth houses are generally repeated, with gable roof and porch protected by large palm frond mats (olas) which sometimes enclose this space, making it liveable by incorporating the space in the house. As regards space, they have two or three compartments, one being the kitchen with its ground oven. All floors are beaten or dunged earth and furniture is virtually absent, thereby making room for kitchen utensils and implements. Mats are unrolled for the afternoon siesta; at night all the rooms are used for sleeping. The more recent 19th and 20th century typologies result from an approximation to the very large old houses – the so-called Goan house. They are somewhat protected by the well-kept vegetation and present several variants, and always have leafy porched balconies raised off the floor, and extensive elevated roofs providing ample ceiling height. But this village also registers one of the most notable typologies, which probably constitutes the evolutionary embryo of the elementary houses. This is a primitive house inhabited by Kamala Talgaonkor, almost entirely built of vegetal material, with an integral wooden framework covered by coconut-palm fronds supported at ground level on a continuous beam. It is small with a very low ceiling, which gives it the outside appearance of a round house. The apparently lateral entrance is almost imperceptible and shields a tiny porch which joins the only compartment, where the floor hearth is in one corner, a zone partitioned by a bamboo and palm-leaf screen allowing it to be used as the bedroom. A small volume on the other side is associated to the porch and used to store firewood. This elementary house is extremely linear. Besides the skilled artisanship it also reveals correct inside and outside proportions, only possible via an ancestral lineage of master builders. The floor is beaten earth, including the porch, which is wrapped in a small rammed-earth wall used as a bench. This typology evolved slowly, nevertheless remaining associated to the lower castes of Hindu and Catholic families, and also appears in other regions, such as the distant village of Butpal.