Traditional Kerala Architecture Elements

Traditional Kerala Architecture: Elements and Features

 Kerala reserves a rich history of unique and monumental architectural styles and designs that have been preserved and passed down to generations. The architecture of Kerala is a blend of its age-old traditions and foreign influences. It survived the testing of time because of its simplicity, grandeur, and above all synchronization with the geography and its functionality. Here we will discuss the various, yet vibrant features of Traditional Kerala Architecture Elements, that make it one of the most distinct and stupendous methods of construction in the world.


Verandah is the oldest form of sit-out. But unlike the modern sit-out, it is a long covered outer space that runs along the front or sides of the house. Typically used for relaxation and socializing, it is used as a partition space between the inside and outside of the house. The backside verandah is used for drying clothes, storing firewood, and as a workspace.

Sloping Roof:

Since monsoon is very prominent in Kerala, the architecture of Kerala includes sloping roofs. This roof protects the house by draining away the rainwater and preventing the house from any damage. Moreover, clay tiles are used to make the roof which creates a temperature control effect in the house.


Woodwork is a special feature of Kerala architecture. Wood is extensively used for doors, windows, pillars, and ceilings and the work is marked by artful designs and patterns which enhance the aesthetic appeal of the entire building. The wood also creates a cooling atmosphere and provides natural ventilation and light.


Courtyard is very common but an ensemble inclusion in ancient Kerala architecture. It is an open space in the middle of the house that provides natural light and soothing ventilation to the surrounding rooms. It is also a common venue for rituals, cultural functions, and social gatherings.


Unlike the modern architectural design, the staircase is designed outside the main building and can be seen from the road. Usually, the staircase is made of wood or stone with architectural carvings on them.

Open-to-Sky Bathroom:

An open bathroom or ‘Marappura’ is a key feature of traditional Kerala houses. This is a separate entity away from the main building and is sky open. Ensuring natural light and ventilation, this bathroom offers privacy also.

Materials used in Traditional Kerala Architecture Elements

Kerala architecture employs locally available materials which are eco-friendly like wood, clay, and laterite stone. These materials are adapted to sink in with the local climate and culture. Moreover, the materials ensure warmth during winter and monsoon seasons and cold during summer.
The architecture of Kerala had undergone an evolution over time. An aristocratic inheritance of local architecture embraced foreign influences from Dutch, British, and Chinese architecture, due to Kerala’s long-time trade ties with these nations. The best example of this is the brick and stone construction which is borrowed from the British.
Tiled roofs, arched doorways, and decorated gables indicate the Dutch influence whereas the wood and woodwork, the Chinese influence. But above all, even if Kerala architecture is touched by these foreign influences, it always stuck to its culture, geography, climate, and customs.
Another aspect is that traditional Kerala architecture is not limited to physical and functional elements, but it is deeply embedded in the cultural ethos of the land. Extended families live in these houses, named Nalukettu and Ettukettu denoting the sizes, where all family members and relatives lived in harmony. Nucleus family living was alien to them. The layout of the building is in such a way that great interaction was done between family members without hampering privacy.

Kerala's Architectural Gem: Discovering the Elements That Make It Timeless

In modern times, there has been a revived interest in traditional architecture amidst the flooding of contemporary architecture. Architects and engineers are striving to incorporate the merits of ancient construction even in modern buildings. This merging has lighted up a new style of architecture which is a cohesive blend of traditional and contemporary architecture.
To conclude, Kerala architecture transcended the ages and was preserved because the style and functions of this archaic architecture are deeply rooted in the cultural, geographic, and ecological spheres. Local materials, our craft, unparalleled engineering capability, adaptation to the local climate, and foreign influences, all contributed to the development of this style of architecture. That’s why it is still inspiring and influencing the new generation of architects and designers around the globe.

Reviving Kerala's Rich Heritage: Exploring the Timeless Traditional Architecture Elements through GreenToday Construction

GreenToday Architects, the highly sought-after architecture and construction company in the state, that created master-class residential villas and apartments, business flats and offices, malls and commercial complexes, educational institutions, and government offices with scintillating craft and engineering exuberance, is a pioneer in designing, conceiving and reviving Kerala architecture. Clients can call on GreenToday Architects for tasting their traditional designs and availing our services to manifest them.

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So, if your dream is to dwell in a traditional Kerala home, feel free to contact us, and Green Today Architects is there to realize your dream in all its splendor.