THE INDIAN COFFEE HOUSE (Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala)

The Indian Coffee House is a Neo Vernacular architectural style public building located in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala. It’s a prominent landmark, easily commutable form railway station and bus terminal. Architect Laurie Baker has structured his work area on the principles of cost effectiveness and sustainability via use of indigenous material, respect to nature, avoidance of energy intensive material and waste minimization. The building of Coffee House has propounded his signature-perforated screen for natural light and air ventilation. The curved brick walls, encloses more area for the same amount of building material than straight walls setting a hallmark of his style. Noteworthy here is the Baker’s design solution to a small plot in core of the busy urban area.

The following points further portray  Baker’s trademarks:
1) The building is well proportioned, a cylindrical brick-red spiral continuing for a couple of floors and then terminating in a smaller cylindrical volume on top, giving a balance to the whole structure.

2) The eating spaces consist of modules of built in table and seats/ benches arranged on continuous horizontal platforms incrementally rising in height along with the slope of the spiral. Thus providing maximum seating space in proportion to small plot area.

3) Baker has very precise ergonomically designed simple and comfortable furniture. It consists of concrete slab tables fixed to the wall and with a semicircular taper on one side. This slab is resting on a small brick arch, which serves as the legs. The seats are made in brickwork finished with block-oxide on top and the backrest.

4) The walls are made of exposed brickwork, painted white on the inner side and brick red on the exterior.

5) There is a circular service core in the centre, which consists of 2 concentric circles. The inner smaller circular core is a narrow vertical shaft open on the top, with openings at different levels. This shaft provides ventilation to the central areas and works on the principle of Stack Effect, a very simple but effective solution that is so typical of Baker. Around this circular core are the service areas, especially the toilets & hand wash. The kitchen is placed on the ground floor and has a separate service entrance.