The Traditional House

The Traditional House

Diu, Guzerate, India

Housing

Most of the land in the territory is marked by the plain, both on the island and in the small mainland area ruled by the Portuguese until 1961. In these large swaths of open land there is a notable shortage of water due to the porous yellowish soil that results from the breaking down of oolitic limestone. Wells are therefore used to obtain irrigation water, making agriculture extremely difficult. Some places count large circular threshing grounds and the respective chaff. The fields are surrounded by small forested areas that shelter villages or groups of buildings. Garli palms and other species border large areas of dunes, occasionally interrupted by salt pans. The most significant clusters, such as Podramo, Bunxivara, Brancavara and Ghoghla, developed as irregular urban structures. Standing out in some of them are the church, respective forecourt and access as structuring elements; in some they were also the unassuming core of an administrative organisation, where the church played a decisive role in assuring social cohesion, especially in Fudam and Brancavara. Rural typologies are predominantly ground floor with porch running the length of the façade, often partly occupied by the addition of a room on one side. The roofs are generally gabled, with the attic space sometimes used for various storage purposes via an improvised ramp made of poles and boards supported by the wooden beams that form the main frame. In the case of Malala and Nagoa villages the houses lean against each other, forming very narrow street fronts to protect against the sun and monsoon rains. The front porches are more open and are consequently used for family life and to greet and converse with neighbours. A simple stone wall parallel to the façade not only delimits the outside private covered space but also serves as a bench and supports the columns made of coated stone or logs. The houses are elementary in their typological structure: they are practically divided between the confection area, i.e., the kitchen, always with its ground hearth on a small raised area forming an oven, around which is the respective eating area. Opposite is a zone closed by a covered partition. This space is used to keep various items such as clothing, containers with products from the land, etc. Both spaces have charpoys – beds of tensed rope with wooden frames. In some houses and only over the area opposite the kitchen, the upper platform, when totally compact, is used via a trap door to store more valuable possessions and occasionally for sleeping. In the villages of Patelwadi and Buchiwadi the two-floor houses stand out for their full-length wooden verandas. In these as in other villages the traditional vocations are kept within family lines of artisans, especially the carpenters. In the two-storey houses the wooden staircase is inside and the room division is elementary. The upper floor is composed of wooden beams set in the shortest direction. These are covered with lining boards or coated stone slabs, as in the houses in Diu city. The roofs are gabled and sometimes bays are shaped in the gables in both the one-floor and two- floor typologies. The outside and inside walls, when bearing, are made of local limestone, which is prepared with manual cutting instruments, as in Goa with laterite, following ancestral measurement standards. The traditional sand and lime mortars are currently being replaced by cement. Bright coloured pigments are nevertheless still mixed in with the whitewash, though solid white prevails. The modest linear house with gabled roof, in sharp decline, attests to a primitive typology associated to kitchen gardens, farm fields and respective threshing grounds. Extremely low, this house seems more a makeshift shelter or grain storage space like the ones made of laterite in Goa. But until quite recently it was a common typology, and was most likely the basic model for the elementary typologies. In Patelwadi village we observe this small building located just outside the centre. The gabled façade’s door has been curiously shifted to its side, providing a more favourable height due to the need to raise the side eaves. Also in the same village, we see that this house’s innovation seems to be continued, in terms of scale, proportion and divisions, by the introduction of a simplified porch. The territory of Diu also encompasses the densely populated peninsula and village of Ghoghla. The original core is next to the village arch, with a tower house and a cross – the symbol of Christianity in this place. Most houses have just one floor with a gable roof, though in the central area some have two or three floors, and even verandas or roof terraces.

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