Housing

Housing

Daman [Damão/Damaun], Guzerate, India

Housing

In Nani Daman, an age-old Muslim neighbourhood is located along the oldest streets behind Saint Jeronimo’s Fort. Despite the disappearance or conversion of the most significant examples of porched verandas, balconies, teak columns and doors, profusely adorned by master carpenters, these are still some of the most notable constructions in the urban area. The houses are deeply sited with an upper floor projecting over columns and/or arches to provide shade for the entrance and outside living and transition area, with reception benches and platforms also used to sleep on during hot nights. The kitchen is on the ground floor, with all utensils exposed on small wooden supports, as well as the jars and rice sacks. The ground light comes from a clay oven, and even in the wealthiest houses people eat sitting on the floor. A second division houses the toilet and often the bathing area, when this is not installed in the public space next to the house. The pavement is dung or brick, depending on the family’s wealth. A staircase made of wood or wood and plaster gives access to the upper floor which projects from the façade and/or advances on columns. The most expressive examples have balconies latticed with muxarabi screens, a practice nearly extinct. A group of divisions forms the bedrooms, with wooden beds; some of these houses have attic space for storage uses. Besides the aforementioned Muslim neighbourhood in Nani Daman, such houses are found in greater number and architectural quality in the village of Varacunda, though they are nowadays disappearing. It is also in this village that a cohesive urban structure is noted, while in the other villages, despite being organised by neighbourhoods, the houses are autonomous as farmhouses often resulting from old fee arrangements; the colonists traditionally hired seasonal work- ers who lived in houses they built themselves, which could be dismantled and transported when the harvest was over. Now almost entirely gone, they were precarious structures, while the colonists’ houses were of a permanent nature. These were houses with only one floor, reduced divisions and dunged throughout; they stand out for the four sides of the ceramic roof and the porches giving them continuity. The outside walls are mostly in plastered and painted ceramic bricks. Furnishings are sparse with floor light in the kitchen, where people eat and sometimes sleep. The Hindu houses in the interior villages are generally camouflaged in the landscape, maintaining the traditional technique of bamboo frame open in sheets, often intertwined and bound with resistant fibres, coconut rope, and are filled with a mortar made of diluted earth and dung. A primary wooden frame holds up the roof. This typology prevails beyond the surrounding territory; one of its most relevant features is the temporary removal of the lining, offsetting it from the bamboo frame, next to the roof lintel and on its periphery to increase ventilation at the height of the hot season. It is partially or totally covered again during other periods. There are no rigid divisions, though vegetable fibre partitions divide space without entirely closing it; sometimes cloth hangings are used for more privacy. These spaces rarely have ceilings, leaving a loft space for the roof frame. The kitchen is located in one of the corners with the traditional floor hearth; the smoke exits through the roof-tiles and via the openings by the lintel. Hammocks and floor mats are the home’s traditional beds, though wooden charpoys with woven coconut fibres are used in fishermen’s houses closer to the sea and in wealthier ones. The floors of the poorest houses, as in Goa, are still lined with dung, although such use is declining. The main square of Moti Daman, the seat of administrative power, is where the Christian neighbourhood is situated along with the major identifiable buildings such as the Town Hall and Governor’s Palace, built over a Muslim fortress, the Cathedral, the churches and the monasteries. The houses are incorporated into a regular urban layout forming large block units: in some cases the constructions configure timid side streets with contiguous houses, albeit most are set inside the plots with isolated typologies. There is a certain discontinuity in most of the blocks, except for the central street between the sea and land gates and the street of Saint Augustine’s Convent. Some of these houses stand out for their size and for the large porches that extend the gable roofs, as well as for the scale windows and doors probably influenced by Goa, as is the furniture and the typology. The small territory of the Nagar-Haveli pragana next to Daman is rich in teak forests, the main source of wealth. It comprises a small group of mostly Hindu villages as well as some Catholic families. The houses are shielded from the heat under leafy protective trees. In the village of Nardi on the way to Silvassa there are still houses with vegetal frames filled with earth and mortar, sometimes including dung and/or straw. Some have a vivid orange colour, accentuating their presence among the green trees. In some cases the porch protecting against heat and rain is an all-encompassing construction, perhaps in a recent typological evolution, leaving only the central door for access. The roofs are generally ceramic and gabled; the tops of the gables only hold up the wooden ventilation structure, protected with palm leaves. The spatial organisation is the same as in other Daman villages.

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