Goan Architecture

Regional Architecture & Interiors Dated:  April 30, 2014
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Credit : Dominik Hundhammer, Creative Commons

Goan culture is an eclectic mix of Portugese, Mughal and Indian influences. The European architecture was adopted by Goan homes and churches to a large extent, but they did not cut themshelves off from their Indian roots completely. This resulted in a lovely fusion that stayed and afftected house and home design. The bright colours, the lush green courtyards coupled with the different architectural influences set Goan homes apart from the rest of India. Let’s run you through the basic elements of a Goan home!

Style: The houses in Goa conform to something called the ”Goan-Portuguese style” of architecture. Tiled roofs can be seen in most Goan houses, held up by wooden rafters, giving out a very “old-European” vibe. Yet, these houses are not entirely cut off from their Indian roots.Orientation and Design: Portuguese homes in Goa are façade oriented and two-storeyed with large windows. Indian-origin homes are replete with courtyards. Most Goan homes use a combination of both of these styles. The courtyards are ornamental and are filled with a lot of vegetation and the upper storey is used for living. The architectural style of the homes reflects a very summer cottage kind of appearance, probably perfect for the state of beaches!

Use of colour: The use of bright and startling colours is another specialty of Goan architecture. During the Portuguese rule, home owners could be fined if the exteriors of their homes weren’t painted. White was associated with purity and hence, reserved for the churches. Homes used to be (and still are!) painted in all kinds of shocking colours ranging from the yellowest of yellows to the brightest of blues. If you take a walk around any Goan neighbourhood, you will be mesmerized by the sheer display of colours!

Use of arches and pillars: The use of arches and pillars in Goan courtyards is rampant. Most Goan courtyards use sturdy pillars and beautifully constructed arches to provide a unique look to their homes. Cornices made of country tiles are a feature peculiar to Goa. The effect achieved is aesthetically pleasing, giving the roof projection a solid, moulded appearance.

The Balcao: This functioned as a porch in Goan homes. It is a spot for most families to sit around, enjoying the breeze and spend some time together, while watching the world go by. The design of the balcao saves it from the piercing heat of the mid-day sun and lashing rain.

The Sala: This is the largest room in a Goan house and it is the first one you would step into while entering. The Sala was used for entertaining visitors and basically is the same thing that we call a hall.

Building material: The building materials used in Goan home architecture are things as simply available as laterite and stone. Mother of pearls are used to line windows, which not only give out a lovely, transparent hue, but also keep the interiors of the home cool.

Altars: Most Goan Catholic homes boast of elaborate altars made of the finest wood or stone that the family can afford. This serves as a spot where the family can get together and pray at the end of the day.

A Goan home is simply constructed with lots of love. They boast of some very typical influences from both Europe and India and the marriage of these two styles has resulted in the birth of a phenomenal range of architectural styles, making it a classic example of “The best of both worlds”.

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