These Perched Cabins in India Will Stimulate All Your Senses

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By Lucy Wang
A series of minimalist cabins nestled among spice plantations offer a restorative nature experience.

It’s little wonder that South India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary, Thekkady, has long charmed both nature lovers and spice traders alike. Draped in lush greenery and cooling breezes, this misty haven for spices and wildlife is a beauty to behold, which is why Bangalore–based Kumar La Noce wisely took a sensitive approach to their recent renovation of the Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club boutique resort.

The surrounding region offers a wide variety of activities, such as spice walks, trekking, bamboo rafting, and wildlife sanctuary visits.

The surrounding region offers a wide variety of activities, such as spice walks, trekking, bamboo rafting, and wildlife sanctuary visits.

Tasked to design five cabins—as well as a pool and spa block—on a steep site, the architects strategized ways to enhance the dramatic views of the surrounding cardamom plantations, while preserving privacy and minimizing landscape disturbance. Although a minimal and elevated design was necessary, it was also important to balance those restraints with a luxurious touch befitting a resort

The timber-clad cabins beautifully blend into their natural surroundings.

The timber-clad cabins beautifully blend into their natural surroundings.

The architects crafted the 430-square-foot cabins as "floating volumes" raised on stilts to rest lightly on the landscape. In a nod to the local vernacular, the cabins are evocative to traditional timber stilt cottages—yet with a clear, contemporary twist.

Elevated walkways connect the structures and also lead to the all-day dining restaurant, Cafe Samsara.

Elevated walkways connect the structures and also lead to the all-day dining restaurant, Cafe Samsara.

"Our first response upon visiting the spectacularly lush site was to 'tread gently,' which led us to imagine the built structures as light-weight volumes floating within a sea of green," says Bhavana Kumar, principal architect and cofounder of the firm. 

Cooling breezes can be let in through the operable glass windows.

Cooling breezes can be let in through the operable glass windows.

"Owing to the irregular and steep terrain, we had to locate and align the units by 'drawing' directly on-site for the best views and setting," she continues to explain. 

Floor-to-ceiling wood-framed glazing allows breathtaking views of the outdoors.

Floor-to-ceiling wood-framed glazing allows breathtaking views of the outdoors.

The cabins, as well as the raised infinity pool and spa block, were primarily crafted from sustainably sourced Bangkirai wood—an extremely durable hardwood that creates a warm reddish contrast to the verdant forest canopy. 

Embroidered bedding accents, hand-woven blankets, and a handmade sisal rug add a touch of texture to the interior.

Embroidered bedding accents, hand-woven blankets, and a handmade sisal rug add a touch of texture to the interior.

The interiors are minimally dressed to keep focus on the outdoors, while an abundance of glazing creates an open, pavilion-like feel. Handcrafted teak and rattan furniture along with rice-paper light fixtures complement the simple, yet sophisticated rooms. 

The Bangkirai timber used throughout the cabins has been treated with linseed oil.

The Bangkirai timber used throughout the cabins has been treated with linseed oil.

"We also had to face a formidable monsoon season that Kerala is famous for during construction," adds Bhavana. "And yet, we feel the property comes alive during the rain. Surrounded by a rich glistening sea of green, it provides a feast for the senses."

Each cabin opens out to a generously sized deck.

Each cabin opens out to a generously sized deck.

The cabins are specially sited to promote natural light, but guests can also pull down the linen shades for the days they'd like to sleep in.

The cabins are specially sited to promote natural light, but guests can also pull down the linen shades for the days they'd like to sleep in.

A nearly 50-foot-long infinity pool, also raised on stilts, overlooks views of the striking cardamon plantations.

A nearly 50-foot-long infinity pool, also raised on stilts, overlooks views of the striking cardamon plantations.

A ‘porthole’ window offers a glimpse of the outdoors from the shower area.

A ‘porthole’ window offers a glimpse of the outdoors from the shower area.

Ready to escape to this highland paradise? Click here to reserve your cabin.

Project Credits:

Architects of Record: Kumar La Noce

Builder/ General Contractor: Stillwood India

Structural Engineer: Manjunath & Co

Landscape Design: Earthline Consultants