G Smarakam Memorial is a tribute to the famous essayist, lyricist, Member of Indian Parliament, and literary critic of Malayalam literature – G Sankara Kurup. Born in 1901, G Sankara died at the age of 76 in Ernakulam District, Kerala where he lived for most of his life. Some of his lifetime achievements include his contributions to the Malayalam literature – the Jnanpith Award and the Padma Bhushan. The Site is located in the heart of Kochi city, bordering the ecologically sensitive Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary. Due to this, the site is framed by verdant greenery and abuts a canal that connects to the Backwaters.

Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2021
First Award | Category: Cultural (Concept)

Project Name: G-Smarakam: A Memorial for a Poet
Project Category: Cultural (Concept)
Studio Name: Fahed + Architects
Area: 650 sq.m
Year: 2020
Location: Kochi, Kerala, India
Text Credits: Marionne James

G. Smarakam - A Memorial for a Poet | Fahed + Architects - Sheet1
©Fahed + Architects

The Design Intent is to have a building that quietly blends in with its surrounding vegetation and serves as a calm place for gathering, silent reading and contemplation to pay homage to the poet’s presence in Keralan legacy, with congregation spaces in the form of amphitheater, an auditorium space, lounge and library, meeting rooms and café.

Kerala architecture is popular for its unique and skillful use of timber, accurate joinery, artful assembly and delicate carving of wood work. The belief is that every structure built on earth, has its own life, with a soul and personality which is shaped by its surroundings. One of the key feature is the indigenous adoption of the available raw materials and their transformation as enduring media for architectural expression.

G. Smarakam - A Memorial for a Poet | Fahed + Architects - Sheet2
©Fahed + Architects

The most distinctive visual form of Traditional Kerala Architecture is the long steep sloping roof built to protect the structure and withstand the heavy monsoons of the region. Complex geometry has always played a very pivotal role in the evolution of the roofing system in Kerala.

The various complex details at the connection of the Kzhikol (rafter) to the uttaram (ridge) has been refined over centuries along with other members such as the radiating tilting rafters. In traditional design, symmetry played an important role in all these geometric configurations.

G. Smarakam - A Memorial for a Poet | Fahed + Architects - Sheet3
©Fahed + Architects

The concept of G Smarakam is to approach this traditional roof form in a new perspective – by off centering the pinnacle. The asymmetrical shift of the pivot has altered the geometric resolution of the roof. The form also pays respect to Kerala artisans and their craftmanship, which can be seen in the intricate carving details on the rafters of the sloping roof. The massive 4m overhang with its radial rafters slopes up to merge together at unconventional angles creating an asymmetrical pitched roof. The roof is covered with terracotta and glass tiles, placed in a random arrangement. The building is completely made from locally available natural materials such as stones, timber, clay, granite, laterite.

The planning is done in such a way that the entire plot is raised by 1.5m to prevent flooding during heavy rains. The ground floor consists of a large space with floor to ceiling glass walls that offers a seamless connection with the exterior and gives an illusion of a floating structure from the road.