You are on page 1of 56






India is a vast country with varied geographical conditions and

topography. There are many varied vernacular settlements found across the
country. In such search, the vernacular settlements found in the coastal
villages of Tamil Nadu responds with larger attributes in terms of buildings
designed to withstand the scorching sun and high humidity.

Figure 3.1 Map showing geographical location of the selected study

areas in Tamil Nadu coastal region.
(Source- www. mapsof

3.1.1 An Overview of the Sample Vernacular Houses in Coastal

Region for Experimentation

Vernacular houses in coastal regions of Tamil Nadu are successful

examples of buildings constructed in warm humid climate. The coastal belt of
Tamil Nadu can be segregated into three parts; the first part is the coast from
Chennai to Pondicherry, the second coast is from Pondicherry to
Rameswaram and the third coast is from Rameswaram to Kanyakumari. In the
coastal stretch i.e., from Chennai to Pondicherry, the settlements were found
to be temporary and fragile in nature and there is no evidence of traditional or
vernacular settlements. But in second part, the vernacular settlements are
found in Parangaipettai of Cuddalore district, and Tharangampadi and Nagore
of Nagappattinam district. Subsequently in third part, the vernacular
settlements were found in the Thoothukkudi district of Tamil Nadu
(Figure 3.1).

While tracing such houses, interestingly it was found that these

towns were very ancient (around 150 to 200 years old) and was old port
(harbour) towns. By keeping the age in mind, the houses are classified into
four major categories and with respect to the climate designed elements they
posses like courtyards, ventilating systems, thickness and materials of walls
etc. The classifications of houses are arrived as four major typologies like
houses with wind catcher above courtyard as type-1, houses with only
courtyards as type-2, houses with sky vent or clearstory as type-3 and houses
without courtyard as type-4 and one sample house in each typology was
selected in different study areas which are described as below. The
vernacular settlements found in Nagore-Nagappattinam (study area 1)
followed by few age old settlements in Tharangampadi (study area 2),
followed by Thoothukkudi (Tuticorin) (study area 3) districts and followed by
the ancient Parangipettai (study area 4) of Cuddalore district. Most of these

study houses are about 150 to 200 years old. The houses that were built in
these port towns are far before the introduction of electric energy to these
villages and hence they are most appropriate examples to be the study houses
which are found to be most suitable for this research (Table 3.1).

Table 3.1 The sample vernacular building selected for study in the
coastal region of Tamil Nadu

Place of the
Typology sample house / House description View of the house
period of study

Nagapattinam Vernacular houses

(summer and with country made tile
Type -1
winter of year in sloped roof with
2010 and 2011) wind catcher

Tharangampadi Vernacular houses

(summer and with country made tile
Type -2
winter of year in sloped roof with
2009 and 2010) courtyard

Vernacular houses
Thoothukkudi with country made
(summer and tile in sloped roof
Type -3
winter of year with sky vent (clear
2010 and 2011) storey window) and
sky lighting

Parangaipettai Vernacular houses

(summer and with country made
Type -4
winter of year tile in sloped roof
2009 and 2010) without courtyard

3.1.2 Climatic Zoning in India

According to NBC 2005 (Source: National Building Code Part 8/

Building service, vide section 1: lighting and ventilation cl-3.2.1, Figure 2,
page no. 9 of part 8) Vyas, Bansal & Minke (1988) India is divided into six
climatic zones:

Figure 3.2 India map showing the various climatic zones

(Source: National Building Code 2005 Part 8/ Building service, vide
section 1: Lighting and ventilation Cl-3.2.1, Fig 2, page no. 9 of part 8)

They are (1) Hot and dry, (2) warm and humid, (3) composite, (4)
cold and cloudy, (5) cold and sunny and (6) Moderate (Figure 3.2). All the
study areas viz Parangaipettai, Tharangampadi, Nagappattinam and Tuticorin
come under warm and humid climatic zone. Vernacular houses in these
coastal regions are about 150 to 200 years old. As mentioned earlier, these are
incidentally the ancient harbour towns. The qualitative studies in all these
places were conducted during May 2009 and May 2010, so that the summer

discomfort (high Relative Humidity) of the residents can easily be



3.2.1 History and Topography

Nagapattinam District lies on the East Coast of Tamil Nadu. It is

bounded by Thanjavur District and Thiruvarur District on the West,
Cuddalore District on the North and the Bay of Bengal on the South and the
East. The District lies between 10.25o and 11.4o North Latitude and 76.49 o
and 80.01o East Longitude. The general geological formation of the District is
plain coastal. Cauvery and its tributaries are the principal rivers. The coastal
land is generally plain except for a few sand dunes. There are no hills in this
district. The total geographical area of the District is 3,536.38 Also,
Nagapattinam is one of the constituents of Cholamandalam, acclaimed as the
most prominent among the ancient Tamil Kingdoms. Its salient features have
contributed to the glory of the Cholamandalam. Coastal town Nagapattinam
was the headquarters of a region during the Chola period. It is as early as 3rd
century B.C that the accounts of the town are found in the Burmese historical
text of the period. The same text gives evidences of a Buddha Vihar built by
the great Ashoka, which was mentioned in the book by Chinese traveller
Hieun Tsang. In ancient Buddhist literature, Nagapattinam was mentioned as
Padarithitha. Portuguese had a commercial contact with this town during the
Tanjore Nayakkas rule (Sevvppa Nayakkar & Acchuthappa Nayakkar).
Portuguese commercial centre was established in 1554.

3.2.2 Climate

The climate is warm- humid based on the climatic zone of India

(Figure 3.3). The main monsoon is North East monsoon (October to
December) contributes about 60% of the total annual rainfall. The second one

is the South West monsoon (June to September) contributes about 20% of the
total annual rainfall.

Figure 3.3 Map showing Nagapattinam and the study houses

Nagapattinam has been experiencing the hot climate in summer

with humidity and humid climate in winter. During summer (March to May),
it is hot with the temperatures hovering around 28 C to 41 C, as in the
coastal region, the breeze from the sea provides reprieve from the extreme
heat. Monsoon period (June to September) offers temperate climate
accompanied with mild to medium rain fall. During winter (December to
February) it is pleasant with moderate climate. During winter, the temperature
is in the range of 21C to 36C. The presence of high amount of moisture in
the atmosphere for major part of the year causes thermal discomfort as there
is less evaporation, resulting in sweating. The monthly normal climate of
Nagapattinam is given in Table 3.2. Temperature varies from 21C to 41C,
relative humidity (RH) is very high and it varies from 60% during day and

will be above 90% during night in most of the seasons and during normal
seasons wind velocity varies from 4m/s to 9m/sec.



3.3.1 Basic form and Planning Principles of the Study House

Vernacular settlement pattern of Nagapattinam has narrow streets

and common wall structures which forms a dense urban fabric that breathes
through the smaller indoor open spaces like courtyards. The overall urban
form is very compact with a combination of flat and sloping roof forms.
These houses were built on a linear rectangular plot, which forms a linear
pattern along the coastline. These houses were generally oriented towards
east-west directions. A floor plan of a typical vernacular house illustrates with
an outside veranda for guests in the front of the house, which leads to
courtyard(s) that is mainly used for carrying out their day-to-day activities
and ceremonial functions (Figure 3.4). These linearly designed houses form a
dominant axis from the front entrance door connecting the courtyards and
corridors which finally ends in the rear door. This axis is mainly to allow the
sun and air to enter into the house and to facilitate better air flow throughout
the house. As we enter the house through the veranda, the raised platform
(thinnai) becomes the front sit out for the occupiers and the guests
(Figure 3.4).

The thinnai marks the transition space, with wooden pillars as a

decorative architectural element, after which the house is entered through a
finely carved wooden door and a vestibule. At the end of the vestibule, the
mutram (open courtyard) (Figures 3.4 and 3.5) becomes the central space
around which various other private spaces like bed rooms, store rooms etc are
functionally arranged. The wind catcher (Figures 3.5 to 3.7) is located at the
top of the courtyard, thereby bringing ventilation (air movement) in to the

3.3.2 Materials of Construction

The common building materials used for vernacular construction in

the coastal region of Nagappatinam are mud, brick, lime mortar, thatch
roofing, country roof tiles, timber, bamboo, etc. The wall thickness is
normally 450 to 600 mm thick for mud walls(cavity walls) and 230 to 300mm
for brick walls. Brick lintels are seen in most of the houses over the
ventilators and windows. Mud walls are usually built in course to a maximum
of 4500 mm height. Local mud is thoroughly mixed with water and straw,
they are sometimes reinforced with reeds.

The soft mud (raw clay 70-75%) and sand (25-30%) are mixed and
used as the binding material (mortar) and also used as plastering material
(mortar). Mud plastering is the most commonly used technique. Sand is
mixed with clay to reduce shrinkage cracks. Lime is yet another locally
available material and most economical too and is sometimes used as binding
material (mortar) in brick masonry.

The walls are white washed with liquid lime. The interior walls are
mostly plastered in mortar (mud/lime) and lime washed. The inclusion of lime
in a mortar promotes more intimate contact between the mortar and the
masonry units. Lime mortar generally leads to improved water resistance. For
roof frames (mostly sloped roofs) normally country timber or bamboo are
used and for roof covering hand-made burnt country tiles are commonly used.

The thermo physical specifications of these materials are the

important factors in warm humid regions. These materials have thermal
resistance, high heat capacity and they absorb the sun radiation by their
external surfaces.

Figure 3.4 Front elevation, plan and the section of a sample traditional
wind catcher house - the study house -1

Figure 3.5 Cross section of the study house

Figure 3.6 View of the study house 1


3.3.3 Activity Areas

The study house consists of a veranda (Thalvaram) which is the

benevolent social extension of the house and it provides shade and protection
for the passers. It protects the building wall from sun and rain. It acts as a
transition space between house and street. The steps lead to the raised
platform (Thinnai) which is shaded by the roof overhang that is used to sit and
relax. The roof overhang of the thinnai shades the walls and windows from
harsh radiations, therefore reducing the heat gain into the building. This house
has a courtyard mostly covered with wind catchers (kaartru pandhal) located
above the courtyard. The courtyard plays the major role in the entire house;
they are used as the place for worshipping, socializing activities etc. The
courtyard is surrounded with a corridor which leads to various other private
spaces like bed rooms, kitchen, store rooms etc. The verandah at the rear side
is used for utility.

3.3.4 Qualitative Analysis

The vernacular residential buildings nearby the sea experience high

humidity and high solar radiation which makes the thermal condition
uncomfortable during summer. The general orientation of this urban setting is
based on the state of coastline and wind direction. The main principle used in
the buildings here is to reduce heat and humidity by using natural ventilation.
The buildings were designed to achieve cross ventilation through courtyards,
wind catchers, etc. These buildings are usually designed by arranging the
spaces around a courtyard and the building materials used are of low thermal
capacity. The houses also have large overhangs above windows which will
considerably reduce the sunlight entering inside the building.
55 Orientation of building

In these buildings more than the orientation of the buildings, the

orientation of the wind catchers are more important. These residences are
strictly oriented towards east-west axis. The longer side of the building faces
the North and south, hence the walls are less exposed to direct sun. Therefore,
there is lot of air movement into the building, which is required in a warm
humid climate. Internal courtyard

The vernacular house selected for study has a courtyard measuring

2.9m x 2.7m. This courtyard primarily provides light and used as an open
space for number of other activities like cooking, sleeping, working, playing,
gardening, and worshipping. The courtyard of this selected house is encircled
with high (3m) and thick (450mm) brick walls with mud mortar and mud
plaster. During the summer day time, when the sun is at its peak (April 2 nd to
May 2nd 2009 and 2010) the courtyard is fully shaded and thus delaying the
heat gain, keeping the interior cooler. The heat gain from the sun is more in
the upper part of the courtyard; this makes the air in the upper part of
courtyard warmer and lighter, causing the air to move upwards. However, due
to the presence of the wind catchers above these courtyards, the wind
movement causes a peculiar effect as explained in Thus, due to the
principle of buoyancy, low pressure develops in the courtyard and it induces
an air movement from inside that flows towards the surrounding spaces so as
to move out through the openings (doors, windows and ventilators) in the
leeward end. During the night times the same courtyard becomes a heat sink
and by natural convective cooling, this courtyard allows the hot air to move
up as explained in, and thereby acts as an excellent thermal regulator
and creates a comfortable living environment.
56 Openings and use of natural ventilation - wind catchers,

windows and ventilators

Most of the vernacular houses in these areas have huge openings

above the courtyards which are oriented towards the south direction so as to
receive the breeze inside their home and these are called as wind catchers,
(Figures 3.6 and 3.7) which are typical of its kind in India, It is believed that it
is a traditional Persian architectural device, which was used for many
centuries, but there is evidence that the idea of the wind-catcher dates back to
the early Pharaonic periods (Abdel-moniem et al 2010). Examples can be
found in the Eighteenth Dynasty houses of Tal Al-Amarna. The Pharaonic
house of Neb-Amun (Figure 3.8) was depicted from a painting on his tomb of
the Nineteenth Dynasty (1300 BC). Wind catcher is one of the important
elements of hot and humid architecture which is used for cooling and
ventilation of internal spaces. Wind catcher acts both as sucking and pulling
agent, the basis of the action is that wind blowing is used to suck the cold air
to the inside of the building and the reaction of it is used for sending out the
hot and pollutant air from inside the building. The function of the wind
catcher in these regions is to pull wind from external air stream and induce it
to the building and courtyard in order to cool the occupant directly by
increasing the convective and evaporative heat transfer from the body surface.
It cools the occupant indirectly by removing the heat stored in the building
structure. When wind is blowing towards the catcher and the building it
serves; a wind pressure develops on various apertures. Air enters from the
windward openings, with positive wind pressure coefficient, and leaves the
leeward openings, with negative or lower values of the pressure coefficients.
Wind catchers are designed to pull and drive airflow through top opening
which usually faces the prevailing wind. During day time the operation

mechanism of the wind catcher is dependent on the wind effect due to air
pressure difference across inlet and outlet. The catcher traps and channels
down air at higher velocity and lower pressure than ambient air. This is
known as Venture effect. It is also possible to use evaporative cooling to cool
the air. During night time, the relatively lower outdoor air temperature helps
to cool the building. If there is no wind then the heat released by the wind
catcher heat up the air inside it and sucks it outside the building and the rooms
were replaced by the cool air from the courtyard (stalk ventilation). In wind
catcher the driving forces for the airflow are all natural. They arise from either
a blowing wind, or a temperature difference between the building interior and
the outside. When wind catcher is placed on the roof of a building, a blowing
wind will generate a high pressure on the windward side of the wind catcher,
and lower pressures inside the building and on the leeward side of the wind
catcher. These pressure differences are often enough to drive the fresh air
from the wind in to the building and extract the stale air out through windows
and ventilators (reverse stalk ventilation) and again all the rooms will get cool
cool air from the courtyard .

The vernacular house selected for study (Figures 3.6 and 3.7) has a
typical unidirectional wind-catcher measuring 1.2 m x 2.1m above the
courtyard measuring 2.9m x 2.7m. This wind catcher is opening along the
windward direction of the sea, which facilitates to bring cool air inside the
building. Figure 3.9 shows the wind-catcher of the study house facing
windward direction which captures the cool air from the sea. As a natural
process during the day time the wind enters inside the house through the wind
catchers and pushes away the existing warm air to move out of the house
through the openings (doors, windows and ventilators) in the leeward end.
During night hours, the wind movement from the land towards the sea

(leeward direction) enters the house through the openings (windows and
ventilators) and pushes the stagnated hot air towards up so as to escape
through the wind catchers. This keeps going and maintains the house well
ventilated. This wind catcher has been constructed above the courtyard to
generate incessant natural ventilation.

Wind shadow

Figure 3.6(a) Wind Shadow Effect

When moving air strikes an obstacle such as building, this will slow
down the air flow but the air flow will exert a pressure on the obstructing
surface. This slowing down process effects a roughly wedge shaped mass of
air on the windward side of the building, which in turn diverts the rest of the
airflow upwards and sideways. A separation layer is formed between stagnant
air and the building on one hand and the laminar air flow on the other hand.
Due to its momentum, the laminar air tends to maintain a straight path after it
has been diverted; therefore it will take some time to return to the ground
surface after the obstacle. Thus a stagnant mass of air is formed on the
leeward side at reduced pressure. This is not stagnant and a vortex is formed,
the movement is light and variable and it is often referred to as wind shadow.
In the study area wind catchers are not located in the wind shadow of another
building. Wind shadowing from adjacent developments can cut out, almost
completely, wind incidence on a building as has happened in many densely

packed cities. This is why the wind catcher was used to catch the faster
flowing air over the roof scape and channel it down in to the buildings below
(koeinsberger et al, 2009). The material used in the wind catcher also plays an
important role. The texture of wind towers is polished with natural color of
tiles and other sides are painted with white color, which also ensures that the
wind towers do not absorb rays. Wind catchers trap the desired wind currents
and transport these to the interior spaces. To fulfill this purpose the wind
catcher is designed to raise above roof the building. It serves it function
effectively through appropriate utilization of wind currents, the ratio of its
length and its width to height is important. Lots of survey on wind catchers
shows that 60% of all wind catchers are less than 3 metres high above the roof
parapet wall. If the wind current is at lower level , wind catchers may receive
it in lower height (M.C Carthy, 2005).

The residential regions in hot humid climate are built along the sea
side. In hot humid regions the temperature on the land surface is low and
desired wind and breeze or current is at a lower level and wind catchers in
such areas do not rise very high at the highest, they rise only one level above
the roof (Ahmadkhani Maleki, 2011).

The fundamental function of a window is to provide natural

ventilation, light and views depending on the activity being performed inside
the room. Small ventilators are provided high on the gable wall. They provide
diffused, externally and internally reflected daylight to the interior. The small
grills or cement jallis fitted to the ventilators eliminates most of the externally
reflected light. The window size varies from 2x3. This offers immense
protection from the radiant heat gain, hot air drafts and painful glare. Thus
most of the light in the indoor is soft, internally reflected and diffused light.

Figure 3.7 Wind catchers in the Figure 3.8 Painting Pharaonic

traditional houses house Neb amun

Figure 3.9 Wind catchers used in the traditional houses of Nagapattinam Walls and roofs

Thickness of the walls vary from 0.60-0.70m and it is made of mud

or brick which has a low U-Value (U=1.02); hence it serves as a good

insulator. It works on the principle of thermal mass where the thickness of the
brick wall delays the heat gain. The requirement of high thermal mass to
maintain higher time lag so as to provide capacitive insulation (insulation
operates as a function of time which provides a temporal control of heat flow)
was well understood by the local builders. The time lags of these walls are
high; they store heat during the day time and radiate it into the room at night,
when the outside temperature is below the comfort range. Therefore, the walls
and roofs are very thick, mostly in brick or in mud respectively. The light
coloured surfaces of the faade are used as a mechanism for the protection of
the high thermal mass walls against solar radiation as they absorb less heat in
summer, thus preventing the rise of internal temperatures. The interior walls
are painted in white allowing good internal reflection and results in high
levels of indoor illumination. The roofs are most often single pitched (slope
<30) and supported on wooden trusses or rafters. The gable walls are plain
and often have a small ventilator near the ridge. Many varieties of local
timbers are used for roof trusses, which are built by the carpenters. Thick
stone wall plates receive the roof trusses, which are often supported on the
courses of brick on edge. These brick on edge courses through spring action,
providing resistance against lateral thrust, often found in walls supporting the
sloped roofs.

In order to increase the heat capacity of the roof, tiled roofs are
provided with air gaps (200mm thick), these country tiles are fixed to the
wooden purlins. These tiles are laid to a very gentle slope on battens
supported by wooden purlins. The pitched roofs give adequate protection
from rain and sun. The triangular space below the pitched roof is sometimes
used for storage facilities. Therefore higher volume of air is available for

circulation, while hot air is accumulated near the ceiling and exits from the
ventilators provided at a much higher level than the occupants body level. Thinnai

It is a raised platform used for social interaction which is shaded

by the roof overhangs. It is a semi-public space in the house. The roof
overhang of the thinnai shades the walls and windows from harsh radiations
therefore reducing the heat gain into the building (Figure 3.10).

Figure 3.10 Thinnai - the Semi open space in a traditional house Thermal insulation

The sloping roof is made of timber or bamboo. Timber being a bad

conductor of heat does not allow the horizontal surface to gain any heat
throughout the day. The horizontal surface insulates the inside from outside
creating a temperature zone helping the courtyard to become a heat sink. The
flat roof is made of timber. The sun path during the summer shows the
percentage of walls which is shaded during peak summer.
63 Day lighting (visual comfort study)

The day lighting required for the entire house is achieved through
the wind catcher. The wind catcher prevents suns radiation to enter into the
building directly whereas the open courtyard does not allow it. But it traps the
wind as it is oriented against the wind movement inside the building. The day
lighting through wind catcher spreads evenly within the building sufficiently
for carrying out various activities. Other than wind catcher, ventilators at the
side, the openings at the front and back faade provides additional day
lighting within the building. Aural comfort study

As the study houses are located in the rural and semi-rural areas,
the vernacular houses selected for study shows comfortable environment in
terms of noise levels, neither are they disturbing nor are they discouraging. In
the qualitative assessment the noise levels were found to be satisfactory.


Tranquebar is a small town in Tamil Nadu state, on the

Coromandel Coast, just a few kilometres from Karaikal. The town
Tranquebar was already mentioned in scriptures dating back to the 14th
century when the Pandya King built the grand Masilamani Nathar Temple at
Tranquebar. Arab and later Portuguese traders had piled the coasts, and in
1620 when the Danish East India Company was established with the
construction of the Dansborg Fort, trade languages on the coast were Tamil,
Portuguese, Arabic and Malay. The construction of Fort Dansborg is an
example of Scandinavian military architecture. It was a trading post belonging
to the Danish who left their mark on the town, notably by building its
impressive fortifications. The area of the region is 13 It is also called
as Tharangambadi (tharangam means waves, badi means singing, i.e. "the

village of singing waves") is part of Nagapattinam District. The total

population is 20,236 as per 2001 census. It comes under the warm humid
climate and soil type found is sandy and coastal alluvial soil.

3.4.1 Topography

Tharangambadi grew around the shores of two important water

bodies - the Uppanar River which is connected to the larger Cauvery River,
and the Bay of Bengal (Figure 3.11). The town is probably more than
1,000 years old. Tharangambadi and its surroundings, people have always
lived from fishing, farming, trading and other service related activity like
tourism. The architectural style found in this region is mostly of Danish
colonial and Tamil vernacular architecture.

3.4.2 Climate

Tarangambadi comes under warm and humid climatic zone (Vyas,

Bansal & Minke (1988)). Tranquebar is quite hot and during monsoon it
experiences heavy rainfall. The presence of high amount of moisture in the
atmosphere due to geographical setting for major parts of the year causes
thermal discomfort. The region of Tranquebar experiences a tropical dry
climate, quite similar to the other towns in the area. Summers in the town of
Tranquebar are hot and humid, due to its proximity to the sea. The summer
months in Tranquebar are the months of March, April, May and June. These
months will normally experience a maximum temperature of around 39C and
a minimum temperature of 29C. The winter or post monsoon season in
Tranquebar does not necessarily witness a drop in temperature. The maximum
temperature in the region during winter will be around 35C and the
minimum temperature will range around 22C.

Figure 3.11 Location of Tharangambadi (11 01' N, 79 54' E)

3.4.3 Historical Monthly Climatic Averages

The information presented below gives detailed historical monthly

average weather conditions. To maintain relevance to current weather trends
the displayed (Table 3.3) information has been calculated using data collected
over the past two decades.



Tharangampadi has unique vernacular settlements unlike other

Indian towns, because this town has Danish architecture too. The Danish fort
is still preserved in good condition. The influence of Dutch architecture is not
evidently seen in the Tamil vernacular houses however, the knowledge of
material usages influenced the Tamils. A typical Tamil street in this village
has a row of residences constructed in the traditional style with shared wall
and a continuous veranda along the wall and a continuous veranda along the

street. Street with vernacular buildings arranged with shared walls and court
yard in the centre. This spatial arrangement of individual houses may vary
depending on the financial status of the owner. A central courtyard room
around, more than one courtyard, elaborate kitchen area with a small light
well, an upper storey with living room, etc could be few of the differences
noticeable in comparison to the general spatial organization.

3.5.1 Basic form and Planning Principles of the Study House

The order of the spaces lies as public, semi private, private space
and most private. The public space consists of solid compound walls with
welcoming gateway, followed by a planted front yard. The front yard acts as a
transition space between the public space and the semi private space. The
semi open veranda is an amalgamation of the Tamil concept of Thinnai and
Portuguese style of sit out facing the front lawn. The Private space consists of
living room that leads to rooms on either side. The semi open space that
succeeds the living room acts as a transition space between the private and
most private space. The most private space consists of courtyard, kitchen,
granary, storeroom, toilet and door to backyard. The house is 150 years old
and organized in such a way that a very interesting arrangement reflects the
social norms that dictate gradation in interaction (Figure 3.12).

The shape of the building is in such a way that it makes most of the
surface area exposed to prevailing wind direction. This helps in excess heat
loss for thermal comfort and enhances natural ventilation to the building
which is one of the essential requirements to overcome the high humidity of
this climatic zone. It has a Thalvaram in the front along the width of the
house which leads to a foyer followed by a central courtyard (2mx 4.5m)
which is also the benevolent social extension of the house and it provides

shade and protection for the passers. Thalvaram protects the building wall
from sun and rain. It acts as a transition space between house and street. It has
3 rooms surrounding the central courtyard.

The corridor around the central courtyard is 2m wide. The kitchen

and the store room are placed at the east end. Behind the house there is rear
yard with well, bathroom and toilet. The house has a strict axial arrangement
with doors, the one that opens inward from the street to the backyard are
perfectly aligned one behind the other to ensure an easy passage, outwards of
negative energy entering the building. All walls are mud walls of 0.45m -
0.6m thick except few brick walls which were added few years before, a
Thalvaram in the front along the width of the house followed by a thinnai
(a sit out) on either side of the entrance pathway. The steps lead to the raised
platform (thinnai) which is shaded by the roof overhang which is used to sit
and relax.

The roof overhang of the thinnai shades the walls and windows
from harsh radiations therefore reducing the heat gain into the building. The
vernacular residential buildings in the coastal region had courtyards which are
used as drying, cleaning and preparing cereals, food, keeping tulsi plants (an
auspicious plant for Hindu people) in the centre of the courtyard for
worshipping, socializing activities etc. the rear side verandah is used for
utility. The courtyard is surrounded with corridors which lead to various other
private spaces like bed rooms, store rooms etc.

Section A-A

Section B-B

Section A-A

Section B-B

Figure 3.12 Section across courtyard and plan of the study area
2 - courtyard house at Tharangambadi

3.5.2 Materials of Construction

In all the houses of this climatic zone, locally available material

like bamboo, cane, mud, lime and brick are used in different proportions
effectively and efficiently. The roof of this residential building has a wooden
framed structure. The main construction materials are wood, mud-blocks and
baked bricks. Surkhi (mixture of lime, brick powder, sand and jaggery, etc.) is
used to fix the bricks in pukka buildings. The main advantage of using wood
for roofs is that it is hard, resistant to moisture and has poor thermal
conductivity. Adobe bricks and lime mortar were used to construct walls and
exterior columns, which are approximately 0.45 meters thick. Walls are
finished with lime plaster. Few walls are constructed with bricks. The house is
both internally and externally painted light green. The roof is made of burnt
clay tiles that are half cylindrical and are laid over wooden rafters. An
intermediate ceiling lies below the roof and is made of wooden slab over
wooden rafters. Lime plaster became the keystone of decoration in Tamil
houses. The wealthy merchants and the royal families let the masons who are
specialized in lime plaster use their imagination to create stories, florid
capitals, ceilings and homage to patrons in plaster.

3.5.3 Activity Areas

The activity areas in a courtyard house vary depending upon the

region. As far as coastal areas are concerned they mainly depend on the sea
for their day to day life. So a courtyard here is multifaceted. They are used for
drying seafood and preparing various edible products by the ladies in the
house. The sunlight provided by the courtyard is where people spend most
time of the day. The small courtyard is an excellent thermal regulator in many
ways. High walls cut off the sun, and large areas of the inner surfaces and
courtyard floor are shaded during the day. Cooler air, cooler surfaces, the
earth beneath the courtyard will draw heat from the surrounding areas,

reemitting to the open sky during night. In traditional buildings corridors were
built between courtyard spaces that enable cross ventilation through the
corridor to draw air from the courtyard, through the adjacent rooms via side

3.5.4 Qualitative Analysis

The courtyard provides ample amount of sunlight to the entire

house. Though it may give very harsh light, it keeps the house well lit and
hygienic. This particular house has two courtyards. The one near the entrance
is small when compared to the one near the kitchen and utility area. The size
of the courtyard is utility based. The former courtyard provides lighting,
ventilation and acts as a place to keep the auspicious plant Tulsi meant for
worshipping according to their traditional practise. The courtyard at the rear
end is mainly used for carrying out their day to day activity such as drying,
washing etc. As this house incorporates common wall sharing practices, the
windows have been provided on one of the longer side wall. Orientation of building

As the longer side of the building faces the North and South
direction and the shorter side of the building faces the East and West
direction, the walls are less exposed to the direct sun. As North and North east
winds are prominent it provides a lot of air movement into the building. Internal courtyard

The courtyard (2m x 4.5m) present in this house plays an important

role in natural ventilation and in enhancing air circulation. The courtyard is
the largest space when compared to the other spaces in the house, rectangular
in shape shaded partially with tile overhangs. It is surrounded with

circumambulatory passage. The main activities that take places are working,
cooking, playing, drying clothes and sleeping. Buildings with such courtyards
have been considered to offer a substantial potential for utilizing passive
strategies for indoor thermal comfort. As an open space within a building, a
courtyard is a design element in most of the vernacular buildings. By the
presence of these courtyards sometimes the spaces can also overheat the
residence as it transmits solar radiation directly to spaces surrounding the
courtyard resulting in overheating. This problem can be avoided by promoting
the air flow effect, shading and thermal mass issues. Airflow is a primary
effect that has the capacity to dictate the thermal environment inside the
courtyard. The effects of airflow within, promote comfort cooling for the
occupants. They enjoy better microclimatic conditions than the surrounding
open areas, and are supposed to have a positive effect on the indoor comfort
conditions of the enclosing building volume. This is true under certain
conditions, by allowing solar access to all parts of the building, and by
enabling better ventilation of internal spaces. In the courtyard, a pool of cool
air is retained as this is heavier than the surrounding warm air. As we know
that the courtyard is an excellent thermal regulator in many ways the heat gain
from the sun will be more in the upper part of the courtyard, this makes the air
in the upper part of courtyard warmer and lighter, causing the air to move
upwards. Thus a low pressure develops in the courtyard and it induces an air
movement from outside to inside, through the surrounding spaces
(Figure 3.13). After sunset also the phenomenon continues till the air in the
courtyard cools fully by convective flow.

Figure 3.13 Section across courtyard

During the day, as the courtyard gets heated up with the direct
sunlight falling into it, the cool air is pushed into the neighbouring spaces
through doors, windows and ventilators (Figure 3.14). As the cool air enters
from a large space through smaller openings, the pressure of the air gets
increased and flows through a higher velocity. This helps in good air flow
movement within the indoor spaces and also enhances thermal comfort and
makes the day cooler.

During night the temperature falls and the hot air in the indoor
space rises up and the cold air flows through the outdoor and settles down as
it is heavier due to the moisture content in it (Figure 3.14). The hot air being
of lower density rises up and escapes through the vents present above the
lintel as well on the roofs.

Figure 3.14 Expressing the courtyard effect during day and night Openings and use of natural ventilation-windows and ventilators

The windows are present only on one side (southern) of the house
and no windows are present in the Northern wall, because it is a sharing wall
for the next house. The openings in only on one side of the wall creates a
problem for the air circulation in all directions equally, however the presence
of courtyard substantiates this issue and enhances the air movement in this
(where there is no window presence) spaces also, but with lower velocity.
Humidity in this zone is quite high throughout the year, to maintain
comfortable conditions from the high humidity, windows, doors and
courtyards play an important role in modifying the indoor environment to
withstand from the high humid climate (Figure 3.14). The openings vary
from 20% to 25% of the total floor area, which in turn helps in achieving the
enhanced ventilation. Vernacular houses of this zone are porous in
construction and infiltration is very high. Shading plays an important role in
modulating heat gain of the building.
75 Walls and roofs

The walls of the vernacular buildings of this study house are

massive in construction. Walls are normally constructed out of mud or baked
bricks and have the property of storing and radiating heat. By providing
proper thickness and tightness, these walls can be effectively used to
modulate the indoor temperature. The wall thickness of the selected study
house is about 450 -600 mm thick, they are made up of mud and brick cavity
wall daubed with sand and brick bats and lime mortar. This thickness offers
more thermal mass and more time lag.

Generally, usage of an increased wall thickness, and building

materials of higher thermal resistance, results in a lower U - value. Ceilings of
the vernacular houses play an important role in regulating the thermal comfort
inside the houses. Different types of materials like country wooden planks,
bamboo etc. are used to make ceilings (Figure 3.15) .Thick roof constructed
with multiple tile roofing which has lower u-value provides the insulation and
absorbs moisture and reduces overheating by evaporative cooling effect. In
this study house the height of the ceilings are about 2.57 m to 5.49 m, the roof
covering is made up of multiple terracotta country tiles. It consists 3 layers of
country tiles with porous air vents enhancing the hot air to pass by. The
terracotta country tiles which are used as the roof covering materials are
excellent thermal resistive element; they normally resist the heat from
radiation and retain the chillness inside the house.

Figure 3.15 Usage of material Thinnai (The raised sit out area in front of the house)

The Thinnais are the extended sit outs and acts a good thermal
regulator, as because it is an extension of the original major activity area. In
the morning hours, the thinnai may not be used by the occupants because the
morning sun would be striking this space as this is mostly oriented facing the
east in the morning. At the same time this will certainly act as a buffer area
and does not allow the heat to enter directly in to the house. These houses
have overhangs (Chajja) over windows and also roofs are extended outward
to act as overhangs. Extended roofs and overhang windows not only protect
the wall from crumbling due to rainwater but also provides shade so that the
surface area does not come in to contact in the direct sun radiation. The
thinnai in the evening hours has been used as the sit out area for social
interactions. Mostly the kids used to play in the evening hours in these shaded
areas until sunset. Day lighting

The day light for the entire house is achieved through the courtyard.
As the courtyard is completely open, the solar radiation seems to be intense in

this building as it enters directly into the residence without any obstruction.
But such day lighting helps in carrying out their daily activities from morning
to evening like washing utensils, drying of clothes etc.



During 14th century, the Coromandel Coast which comprised of 30

small villages under the head village named as Muthukuzhi Thurai now
named as Tuticorin The Pearl City. The invasion of Portuguese led to the
development of a unique Architectural significance at the coastal belts. The
villages such as Manapad and Virapandianpatanam had a significant,
exemplarily unique settlement. It was said that these people where
outstanding in trade, music, planning and construction (Figure 3.16).

3.6.1 Topography

Manapad and Virapandianpatnam are located along the same

Coromandel Coast of Tamil Nadu at a distance of 20 km from each other. It is
located at 82239N 7838E latitude which is at 60 kms from Tuticorin
and 18 kms Altitude 24m above sea level (Figure 3.17).

3.6.2 Climate

Manapad and Virapandianpatanam come under the warm and

humid climatic zone. The maximum and minimum rainfall is on October and
January respectively. The mean maximum temperature reaches to 41.48C in
May and the mean minimum temperature reaches to 22.53C in January. The
maximum and minimum relative humidity is 74% in January and 87% in June

Figure 3.16 Location of Tuticorin (82239N 7838E)

Figure 3.17 Settlement plan of Tuticorin




3.7.1 Basic form and Planning Principles of the Study House

The traditional houses are mostly dated between 1930s -1940s.

Mostly the orientation of the traditional building is towards North. The typical
settlement of the two villages is based upon the occupation, wherein, the
Fisheries Settlement forms the lower class and is located 200m away from
sea. The merchants, who form the higher class, are located 200 1500m away
from the sea.

Figure 3.18 Plan of the study house -3 at manapad - Tuticorin

The order of the spaces lies as public, semi private, private space
and most private. It is a typical single storied traditional house of floor
area1245 sq.ft. The public space and the semi- private, private spaces are
connected directly without any transition space. The faade depicts the

simplicity of the tradition. The Veranda forms the semi- private space and
leads to the accountants room on either side. The verandah leads to the living
room which also partially acts as a dining room followed by the bedrooms
and finally to the backyard which comprises of kitchen, toilet and open space
(Figure 3.18).

Figure 3.19 The section of the study house -3 at manapad- Tuticorin

Figure 3.20 The front view of the study house -3 at manapad- Tuticorin

The living room has two tiered roofing to support stack effect.
There is an open ventilator at the central roof which helps the hot air to
escape. The ventilators are about 2 height and are on all the four sides

supported by wooden frames and fines to protect the building from rain. The
roof hangs out to about 6 with decorated eaves which acts functionally
incorporating traditional characteristics and add to the carpentry art, which
is one of the major characteristics of this place. The rooms are located at the
either side of the living room. Each room within the building is well lit with
the provision of window. The Backyard consists of kitchen, store room and
toilet with an open space used for drying and other purposes such as cooking,

3.7.2 Materials of Construction

The three distinct stones are excavated in this region and used for
different purposes. They are pallkkal, arulakkal and kuruvikkal (kal in tamil
language means stone). The pallkkal is regular rectangle in shape and
dimension is 1-1/4 X 6. It is excavated from ground near sea shore at 10
depth. It is used at the corners and in the construction of Pillars at the sides of
window and door frames. Arulakal is irregular in shape and variable in
dimension. It is excavated from ground near sea shore at 10 depth. It is used
in the construction of walls. The soil excavated from site itself is used for
construction. Lime, 1- 2 thick Lime mortar is used for plastering both sides
of the walls and Kuruvikal (Figures 3.21 and 3.22). It is in regular rectangle
shape and dimension is 6x3. It is used in the construction of pillars, walls,
arches, roofs. It is country burnt terracotta bricks. In addition the lime used
here is colloquially named as Chippi Sunaambu and Kal Sunaambu The
Lime is prepared by grinding it manually using large ammi (Manual
grinding machine) into fine granules and is used for construction. The walls
are normally 1-6 to 1 -9 thick. The wood used are Kongu and Teak. The
Kongu is used for hard frame, and the Teak is used for doors, window shutters
and for intricate carvings the water which are added for the construction
purposes are the special water prepared with kg of Kadukka and Karupatti
each is soaked into the water for two days and the water is used for the

construction. The wall finish is made out of the specially made plaster called
as the egg plastering. Egg white and lime is used to give the final shinning
finish. The normal Ceiling height is 12ft to 15 ft

Figure 3.21 Usage of stone varieties Figure 3.22 Flooring materials

Figure 3.23 Usage of stone varieties

3.7.3 Activity Areas

This is a typical single storied traditional house of floor area

1245 sq.ft. The public space, the semi- private and the private spaces are
connected directly without any transition space. The faade depicts the
simplicity of the tradition. The Veranda forms the semi- private space that
leads to the accountants room on either side. The concept of Kanakupillai
room was seen in most of the houses. The verandah thus leads to the living
room which also partially acts as a dining room. Then it is followed to the
most private space that is the bedrooms and to the backyard complex

kitchen, toilet and open space. The entry is towards the eastern side. The entry
is through a doorway of 4 wide that opens directly to the verandah. The
Entrance door is a triple panel door made of teak wood. The Veranda forms
the semi-private space which leads to the accountants room on either side.
For most of them the major occupation was dry Fish exports and trade
whereas agriculture was the other minor occupation.

The concept of Kanakupillai room was seen in most of the

houses which was always linked with the verandah. Accountants have an
entry from outside and another private entry from the merchants room is often
provided for the Lord (House Owner).It is usually a small room for working
purpose. The living room has two tiered roofing to support stack effect. There
is an open ventilator at the central roof which helps the hot air to escape. The
ventilators are of about 2 height and on all the four sides supported by
wooden frames and fines to protect from rain. The roof hangs out to about 6
with decorated eaves which solves the functional and brings in the carpentry
art which is one of the major traditional characteristics of this place. The
living room is the coolest space comparatively to other rooms in the house.
The rooms are located on the either side of the living room with longer side
facing North -South direction and the shorter side facing the East West
direction to have minimal radiation. The Backyard consists of kitchen, store
room and toilet with an open space used for drying and other cooking
purpose. The backyard is located at the western side of the house; it is mostly
used for utility purpose.

3.7.4 Qualitative Analysis

The order of the spaces lies as public, semi private, private space
and most private. The sky vent which is provided within the building allows
the cool air to flow in and results in creating the stack effect. This helps in

maintaining the human comfort with the building, but the required lighting is
not completely achieved. Orientation of building

The orientation of the building is along East - West axis. As the

longer side of the building faces the North - South direction and the shorter
side of the building faces the East West direction, the walls are less exposed
to the direct sun due to the presence of the eaves projection. As North and
North-east winds are prominent, it provides lot of air movement into the
building. Openings and use of natural ventilation

In general, the extreme high and low humidity conditions affect

comfortable living conditions in the coastal regions. The provision of
openings on opposite walls facing each other supports the cross ventilation
highly and enhances the free flow of air movement in and out of the building.
This is one of the major criteria which help in balancing the humidity of the
living space at a normal level to enhance better living in the coastal belts.
Stack effect is the movement of air into and out of buildings, chimneys, or
other containers, and is driven by buoyancy. Buoyancy occurs in liquid, fluid,
gas due to a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from
temperature and moisture differences. The greater the thermal difference and
the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force and thus gives the
stack effect. The stack effect is also referred to as the "chimney effect", and it
helps drive natural ventilation and infiltration. The provision of openings on
opposite walls facing each other supports the cross ventilation highly and
enhances the free flow of air movement in and out of the building. This is one
of the major criteria which helps in maintaining the humidity of the living
space at a normal level so as to enhance better living in the coastal belts
because extreme high and low humidity conditions affect comfortable living

conditions (Koeinsberger et al 2001), and this principle of stack effect is

happening in this house also.

Windows play a major role in the natural ventilation. Cross

ventilation is maintained so that the humidity at the indoor is controlled so as
to avoid damp as well as dry conditions. Windows are of 4-8 high and at
26 sill level. Doors are 3-9 wide and 7 in height with ventilators above.
Usually ventilators are 3 X 16 above lintel level. Hot Air escapes through
the vent provided on the roof (Figure 3.24).

Figure 3.24 Air movement


Figure 3.25 Roof vent


Parangipettai is historically known as port to nova as the name

given by the British people when this port town was under their control. This
small town is one of the ancient port town (Harbor town) the vernacular
houses located in this house are typical in nature with sloped roof made of
country made tiles and rafters of either bamboo or palm of coconut trees. This
place is located in the national highway N.H- 4 A between Cuddalore and
Chidambaram. Due to its strategic location on the Coromandel Coast, during
17th and 18th century, Parangipettai has long been a major trading center. In
particular, it was an important trading destination for the Arabs, especially the
Yemenis. During the colonial era the Portuguese, Dutch and English
successively colonized the area. The port in now abandoned and this town
remains as a beautiful old harbor village carrying lots of image of ancient and
vernacular residences.

Figure 3.26 Geographical map and location of study house-4 at


3.8.1 Topography

It is a plain land with a gentle slope towards the sea in the eastern
side. The slope is from west towards east.

3.8.2 Climate

The climate is warm- humid based on the climatic zone of India.

The main monsoon is North East monsoon (October to December) contributes
about 60% of the total annual rainfall. The second one is the South West
monsoon (June to September) contributes about 20% of the total annual



3.9.1 Basic Form

In the coastal harbour towns, most of the buildings are of similar

vernacular style and typology with individual variations. A significant feature
here is that in spite of the religious differences of its population the entire
settlement shares a common architectural pattern. The traditional houses are
open to the street. It is built on rubble foundation with walls of flat bricks and
terracotta tiled roofing. It is characterized by a straight veranda called
thalvaram with terracotta tiles laid over wooden posts and a raised platform
with wooden columns and masonry platforms on either side of thalvaram
called Thinnai. The thinnai can be readjusted to accommodate visitors to sit
and the adjoining rooms are used as drawing room for receiving guests
without hindrance to the main house.

A typical Tamil street in this village has independent residences

constructed in the traditional style. The traditional building is around 150
years old. This building is one storied detached building and it has two
bedrooms with other activity spaces arranged around the hall (Figure 3.27).
The sample house chosen for research has no courtyards. It has four windows
and one door in the front and two windows each on its sides which are the
only source of ventilation. However the house form exemplifies a beautiful
axis cutting across the entire house longitudinally from the front till the rear
which is also the source of good cross ventilation. In most of the houses the
thinnai itself has been converted into the T.V hall, and the entire leisure
activity happens here.

Section line

Figure 3.27 Plan, sections and view of the study house - 4


3.9.2 Materials of Construction

All the houses in this coastal village appear to be constructed

predominantly of burnt or pucca brick for foundations, columns and walls.
The building envelope is made out of brick walls with lime plaster. The floor
and the flooring are made by the lime daubed mud finish. The roof is either
made of bamboo rafter or coconut split rafters but their speciality is always
the palm tree split rafters. The split palm is also extensively been used inside
the house as post and as many roof framing material.

The roof system is primarily a wooden beam structure which is

supported by a system of wooden rafters, covered with thin wooden planks or
of palm battens with an overlay of terracotta tiles or country made half
cylindrical tiles.

3.9.3 Activity Areas

Most of the occupants activity even today in this type of building

is carried out either in the Thinnai space or in the verandah. Though the
rooms consist of windows, rooms are majorly used for storage purposes. The
source of light for the entire building is only through the windows and
ventilators. As a result this is not sufficient for carrying out much of the
activities within. Thereby people spend most of the day in the open space
outside. The open verandah at the entrance welcomes the guests with the
decorated wooden carved eaves. Functionally, it protects from the dusty
winds entering the house and also creates a sense of privacy from within. The
verandah acts as the semi private space which has high ceiling. It then leads to
the living hall. The living room is oriented along the North South direction.
The rooms are located at the Eastern and western side of the living room. The
Backyard consists of kitchen, store room and toilet with an open space used
for drying, cooking and other purposes. These spaces are located at the rear
end along the southern side in the site. The kitchen and store are on the

western side and toilet at the eastern side and semi open space is located at the
Northern side.

The walls are 1-6 thick, the external and internal walls are painted
with white distemper to avoid much heat absorption and to have maximum
reflection of light inside. The floors are contrast to the walls. Lime washed
and polished floor are seen in the liveable space and rough brick bat flooring
is done in the backyard and other utility spaces. The door frames, door and
window shutters are made out of locally available timber called poovarasu
tree. It is a typical single storied traditional house of floor area 2475 sq.ft.

The open verandah which is an important component of the Tamil

concept of Thinnai is the semi-private space which makes acts as an
interaction space for people. The Private space (Figure 3.28) consists of living
room that leads to rooms on either side. The semi open spaces that succeed
the living room acts as a transition space between the private and most private

Figure 3.28 Arrangement of Figure 3.29 Thinnai Space in the

spaces in the study study house 4
house 4

3.9.4 Qualitative Analysis

Unlike the other study houses, the source of light and ventilation is
only through windows and ventilators. Though the thermal comfort is
achieved, visual comfort within is unsatisfied. In such houses the axis is
maintained in order to bring in cross ventilation through the door openings.
Majority of the activities are carried out in the Thinnai space and in the

As said, for these houses also aural comfort is not an essential issue
as they are rural in nature. However the vernacular building materials used are
natural materials and they are noise absorbent materials. The problem
encountered in this study house, which is apparent, is about the visual
comfort. Visual comfort is not evident as per qualitative assessment which is
felt inadequate. Orientation of building

In almost all the residences of this town they had a clear

understanding on the orientation. The orientation of this house is also along
North - South axis. As the front side of the building faces the North the rear
yard is on the south direction and the two sides of the building faces the
east - west direction, these walls are highly exposed to the direct sun, however
the windows present in this area are about 1.5 m high from the plinth level
and of very small in size about .6m x .45m. In this region, south and south-
west winds are prominent and it provides a lot of air movement into the
95 Openings-lighting, natural ventilation-windows and ventilators

There are two windows measuring .3m x 1.2m in the front part of
the house and two windows (almost like ventilators) are there on the sides of
the house but positioned at the height of the ventilators say at about 1.5m
above the plinth level. There are two more windows at the rear sides; the only
source of ventilation in this residence is only through windows, ventilators
and doorways. This results in deficient lighting. Within the building, this
creates discomfort for the occupants. The air movement is little bit achieved
however not found to be adequate. Walls and roofs

The walls are made up of sun dried or burnt bricks and daubed with
mud mortar, the thickness ranges from .45m to .6 m and tapered little bit at its
pinnacle. Mostly the country made tile roof is seen in almost all the houses in
parangipettai. They are shielded with country made tile roof framed with
palm tree rafters and battens. They possess good insulation and protection
against strong winds, inclement weather, fires, and earthquakes. Thinnai

The term has already been explained, most of the activities, in such
type of buildings, take place in the Thinnai space Figure 3.29. It provides
shelter for the outsiders who pass-by. As this is a semi open area this is well
lit and people find it comfortable to work here and are also used as interactive
space. Thermal insulation

The walls being 0.45m thick provides quite a good insulation and
thermal comfort for people within. The other component in the residence that

helps in maintaining the thermal comfort for the occupant is the roof. It is
made of country tiles with two layers of rafters. These two building
component are considered as the key for the thermal comfort, however the
ventilation and the lighting quality are inadequate and has to be addressed.



The standards says that the Warm and Humid climate is

characterized by high relative humidity, around 70-90 %, and high
precipitation levels, about 1200 mm per year. The building design in this
climate should aim at

Reducing heat gain by providing shading.

Promoting heat loss by maximizing cross ventilation.
Dissipation of humidity to reduce discomfort.
Avoid heat storage.
Use reflective outer surfaces.
Use ventilated double roofs.
Use vegetation to moderate the solar impact.

The solar radiation is intense and to a great extent diffuses due to

haze. It therefore demands generous shading devices. The haze may cause sky
glare which can also be reduced by large shading devices. Vegetation is rich
and provides an excellent means of improving the climatic conditions. Its
surface does not heat up and it provides efficient shading at low cost.
However, it has to be arranged in a way that does not impede air circulation.
The principle of heat regulating measures by thermal mass and heat storage is
not applicable for this climate, because the temperature difference between
day and night is minimal. The designer is limited to measures which avoid
heat absorption and heat storage. The use of low thermal mass, high reflective

outer surfaces or double-skin structures is the result. The indoor temperature

can hardly be kept much below the outdoor temperature. However, by
efficient design the indoor temperature can avoid exceeding the outdoor
temperature and inner surfaces can remain relatively cool. Together with
proper ventilation, comfortable conditions can be achieved in most cases.
Existing air movements should be utilized as much as possible to provide
evaporative cooling and to avoid mould growth.

In this type of climate, the main function of the building is to

simply moderate the daytime heating effects of the external air. In other
words, it is important to design buildings whose structure and interior keep
the warm air out, efficiently. Living in a hot or warm climate can quickly
become uncomfortable for its inhabitants with the extreme heat that is built up
by mid-day. That is why it is important for the building structures to have
effective ventilation and an internal temperature below the outdoor level. The
ventilation keeps air moving through the environment and, therefore, keeps
the inhabitants cooler. All these are evidently seen in the traditional houses of
all four typologies, but with a lot of differences in the comfort conditions.
Each traditional house performs differently with respect to the comfort
conditions. The quantitative (measurable) investigation will certainly reveal
the overall performance of comfort conditions amongst these traditional


From the qualitative analysis it can be concluded that the houses

found in Nagappattinam are found to be better performing in all the three
parameters like thermal, visual and aural comfort conditions due to the
presence of wind catchers along with the positioning of doors and windows
etc. The vernacular courtyard house found at Tharangambadi were found to
be better performing in all the three parameters like thermal, visual and aural

conditions due to the presence of courtyards along with the positioning of

doors, windows and ventilators but failed to achieve comfort conditions. The
houses at Parangipettai lack in day lighting quality and in thermal
performance due to the absence of continuous air movement. The house in
Tuticorin is also better in lighting, aural comfort and thermal comfort because
of the presence of clear storey windows. With respect to the qualitative
assessment so for made, the wind catcher houses at Nagappattinam performed
well in all aspects which is surely because of the presence of the wind
catchers (kaartru mandapam). Generally the residences in the warm humid
region are highly prone to sweating and create discomfort to the occupants,
these vernacular houses in general behave better.