Rassaim [Raçaim], Goa, India
The Rassaim area comprises a group of riverside villages on the south bank of the Zuari River, which before ending in an immense estuary skirts a peninsula near Curtalim rich in tilled floodlands and rice paddies and framed by dense palm groves. A very busy road follows the course of the river, on whose south bank are clusters of small shipyards with long side ramps for building and repairing traditional wooden boats as well as steel boats and bulk carriers. Next to some of these shipyards are small and precarious workers’ neighbourhoods, in every way identical to those at Mormugao port. The traditional architecture of this riverside region covers diverse typologies and uses rammed earth and laterite ashlars to build the houses. The typologies are generally elementary, distinguished by the gable- roofed house with porch with saddleback roof of ceramic tiles or coconut palm fronds, the entrance being via the gable as in the example of the Conceição Siqueira house in Curtalim, which can be visited. The door is the only bay of a minimal house comprising two compartments divided by a bearing wall in the middle. The kitchen is in the first room or in some cases placed in a small side ‘corridor’ under one of the overhanging roof eaves. The porch is the centre of life, with a high seating wall with running bench on which the vertical wooden surfaces rest along with the precarious bamboo frame- work that holds up the olas (coconut palm-frond mats). This porch is entered from the side, and between the house’s cornerstone and the porch column is a small chicken coop. Clothing is hung on the roof framework for better conservation in the available space, since there is otherwise no place to fit furniture, as it is occupied by various implements including the hand-mill, as well as koddos for keeping bat, i.e. large baskets used to hold rice. In front and around the house the bat is usually set out in the sun to remove impurities and dry, to keep it aired and stable all year. For this purpose large mats are laid over the clean ground or mortared earth threshing floors, where the women and children sweep the rice using a zani, a traditional coconut-palm leaf broom tied to a sort of coir (husk fibre) cable. Some of the porches are made by fixing coconut-palm leaf pinnae stripped manually from the stems, connecting them to tree trunks or bamboo stalks that form the framework known as a sampllo. Almost all the small villages have small buildings, also gabled, with a similarly gable-roofed porch. This is a store or workshop. Curiously, some small chapels in this place resemble a galilee with the same configuration. The typology of the Hindu patio-house also arises in this region, though not frequently, as in the house of the Prashant Nails family. Built entirely of rammed earth, it is situated in a plot of land with different elevations; the ground was levelled for the patio in a favourable location that allowed a second floor to be built in one of the corners. It is surely a very old house with a patio built of wood; the columns are laterite but the supports, lintels and balcony are wood, joined by careful assemblages. The entrance porch columns are entirely of worked wood that reveals the quality of their carpentry. Outside, the various corners of the Hindu house lead them to be read as ‘fortified’ buildings, due to the very small and almost absent openings. The house focuses on its interior, for a sunny patio with the tulsi plant at the centre. It is arranged to be walked through, except for at the south end where circulation is interrupted by a compartment. The bedrooms and northeast room form a core; the kitchen, washing and storage areas are situated to the southwest and form another unit. Due to its width, the large porch around the patio functions as a social space, where on hot nights people sleep in ‘swing-beds’ hung from the wooden frame- work beams. The attic area is reached by a discreet staircase and is used only for storage and sometimes for sleeping. This house is an example of the reference typology due to its age and originality, and has been reproduced in other places in more recent periods.