From a ledge atop one of Peermedu’s many hills, about 3,000 feet above sea level, a house juts out into a view that looks for all the world like the prow of an ancient ship. But here in Peermedu, the only seas to swim in are treetops and clouds. As seen from the outside, a layered wedge of ash-colored casuarina poles slices through the densely packed green of the hills; inside, the house feels suspended in time and space overlooking the valley. It feels both primal and elemental; earth yet, another world. “It was a design based on the human desire to enter the clouds even after the mountain was finished,” says its architect Vinu Daniels, founder of the sustainable, frugal and almost radical architectural practice known simply as Wallmakers.
For Dubai homeowner George Manu, the house was born out of a simpler desire: to have a place to stay while he pursued his passion for farming. George bought the land many years ago, and until 2018, when he decided it might be a good idea to build a house here, he was very busy nurturing both the land and the indoor grower. The result is an abundance of all kinds of fruit trees, vegetables and more foliage and, surprisingly, a fish pond for the hillside homes.
Designing a house
The Ledge House is, as its architect says, a sight to behold. It sits on the edge of a hill, partially camouflaged into the landscape, half tucked into the hill and half tucked away. The semi-foundation inside is built using the rock and rubble uncovered during the excavation; Half look down on the valley below through floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows that blur the lines between inside and out in an almost disturbing way. While this was part of the intention, the architect notes, the windows help retain heat and showcase “spectacular views of the valley.”
On the surface, the basic two-level structure has about 2,000 square feet of carpet area. Its spartan interiors fulfill the two main criteria of a holiday home: they are easy to maintain and focus on the outdoors, which, fortunately, is the main focus when George is here. “Just being on that plot of land gives us a lot to do! We take care of our plants, run the rajapalayam dog and feed the fish,” he enthuses.