This Chennai home built with discarded materials creates comfort through sustainability

Designed by the owners of the home and the firm ‘ED+ Architecture’, the ‘Re-Use Home’ in Chennai is a study in reducing carbon footprint while not compromising on quality or comfort.
This living room is equipped with colourful furniture.
B.R.S. Sreenag

Marriage and a shared architectural practice aren’t the only things uniting Ammaar and Mridula Chowdry of ED+ Architecture, a multi-disciplinary practice based in Chennai. Both are strong advocates of responsible design, incorporating local materials and labour in their work to reduce their carbon footprint. Together they crafted a house in Chennai’s Teynampet that showcased their ability to build within a circular economy.

A sculptural live-edge bench rests against a mirror inset between fluted timber.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Grey granite was sourced from a quarry now banned, and is used as floor tiles in the main bathroom. The walls are made of concrete-finished tiles from Kajaria.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Aptly titled ‘The Re-Use Home’, the house is built out of salvaged bricks, reclaimed wooden logs, plumbing pipes, dated industrial equipment, and fabric scraps gathered from various sites across the country. Deviating from the norm of execution after a conceptual design is sealed, this house developed as materials were received.

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A long tropical painting artwork welcomes you into the guest bedroom. The space is peppered with brass pendant light from Fabindia, a custom teak wood standing mirror, Raja Rani teakwood chairs inspired by a chess set, and a tiny desk tucked into the corner.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Working with the existing layout, the architects—who are also the owners of the home—ensured a sunlit, airy living and dining room with a deck overlooking a smaller garden. All the bedrooms are accessed through a small ante space off the dining room, keeping the layout fairly functional for this single-level 2000 square-feet apartment. The home is characterised by bespoke details, seen in the live-edge bench sourced from the adjacent site and a grey marble-top dining console, with fluted timber shutters complementing the flutes in their angular foyer.

Sitting atop the console are some memorabilia: ceramic wedding plates from the couple’s wedding in December 2021, a 200-year-old Chinese blue vase, family heirlooms from Mangalore, experiments in blown-glass designed by the couple, and a range of equipment like the filter coffee “dabra”, an Italian mocha pot, and even a Nespresso machine.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Against the clean, neutral backdrop of the home, indigo hues, white-brick walls from a site in Pondicherry, digitally printed concrete floor textures and an enviable coffee mug display niche showcasing mugs from all over the world stand out. The spatial planning and decor are governed by clever recycling of everyday objects and materials that have found new functional use, and bring distinctive character into the spaces. The living room comes to life in its decor collection, including tree stubs and blown glass experiments by the architects themselves.

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Experiments in colour theory resulted in an artwork hand painted by Mridula during her master’s, made of ink and resin.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Linen sheers with shibori patterns, ceramic decor, apple green walls and delicately-moulded and painted doors soften the otherwise industrial appeal of the home. Pre-used vintage furniture like Chesterfield sofas and big leather armchairs sourced from different vendors decorate the house.

Straightforward in layout, the kitchen comes to life with unexpected finishes: high gloss blue laminate, rustic concrete finished shutters and sleek black subway tiles covering the walls. “I like that it’s not a conventional kitchen but that it has a slightly eclectic appeal to it”, says Mridula.

Velvety forest green, deep vines, and burnt orange shine through the tropical artwork and cushions in the guest bedroom, gently mirroring the outdoors. The pared-back study cum gymnasium is a canvas that emphasises custom De Stijl-themed blinds. “We drew inspiration from our shared experiences with our first set of projects designed together comprising sketches, floor plans and photographs,” she says. The room has milky white tones, creating an interior depth punctuated by a collection of books, vibrant blinds, and artefacts. Their unmistakable love for denim notably shines through in the headboard, in-built diwan, and custom rug in the main bedroom. Even the most timeworn scraps, explains Ammaar, will be given a new lease of life in his intricately layered, upcycled furniture and furnishings.

A pair of floating desks and shelves are designed to be placed opposite each other in this all-white study.

B.R.S. Sreenag

Globe pendant lights from KLite hang above the floating nightstands. An abstract geometric painting by S.H. Raza hangs above the divan. A custom rug made of old jeans covers the floor in front of the bed.

B.R.S. Sreenag

The main bedroom offers a perfect example of layering a single material in multiple ways. Structured denim fabric was used to upholster the ribbed bedhead that extends along the length of the adjoining nightstands and forms a divan.

B.R.S. Sreenag

“The details are not the details; they make the design,” celebrated furniture designer and architect Charles Eames once said. Clearly, the ‘Re-Use Home’ is a pursuit of enhancing a house’s potential through adaptive reuse and mindful reinvention.

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