The architect duo Sheril Castelino and Pino Marchese’s own house lends the classic Aurovilian architecture a contemporary soul.

Distinctly Zen-like simplicity and hightly evolved as it is ecologocally sound, this Aurovilian residence is ideal for a tropical climate. Case in point – the intensive use of inexpensive cement flooring in a uniform ochre shade provides warmth to the ready apartment shell while the split-level ceilings -sei ii-curved and trapezoidal (exposed) in nature compel the eye to follow the remarkable roofing laid out in shallow jack arches.

TOP: Dual purpose basic furniture like the divans that double up as guest-beds help in achieving an uncluttered, cosy look for the living space. LEFT: A view of the three main spaces containing the foyer in the lower floor that leads to the kitchen, and the staircase leading to the open bedroom area.


Aurovillian architects Sheril Castelino and Pino Marchese who go by the moniker of Castelino-Marchese have a unique approach to interpreting various architectural techniques in a completely contemporary style that incorporates fu-turistic perceptions of space, which Home Review aims to de-mystify for you in this special feature on eco-friendly sustainable living, focusing mainly on the creative blueprint for their own home.

The groundwork for the Castelino Marchese ar-chitect and interior designer team was mainly pow-ered up by their self-confessed predilection for artis-tically using climatically responsive, indigenous building materials imaginatively by integrating 3-dimen-sional project designs with the Aurovillian concept of realizing human unity in diversity, which their portfolio is a perfect proof of – as is their own home in Auroville, the universal township near Pondicherry in South India!


LEFT: Varied dimensions in design sensibilities are apparent in the house like different ceiling heights are noted in the hallway and kitchen. RIGHT: The bedroom’s wooden bed podest grants a view of the living area from the open mezzanine and is surrounded by assorted artwork. BOTTOM: The cement-clad solid staircase connects the open bedroom on the mezzanine floor to the living space below.


Auroville, the world-renowned cultural and heritage center that has promoted and sustained various fields of research and experimentation alongside supporting integral development of diverse projects ever since its inception in 1968 is a far-cry from conventional society living: its exclusive and elevated status is granted it by way of the brand name being synonymous with tranquil living spaces that allow room for personal growth.

The availability of various levels of human and me-chanical expressions afforded to Auroville by its versatile professionals, which includes eminent architects, artists and designers besides other creatively inclined residents is what makes Aurovillian living a fantastic backdrop for the natural development of this designer duo’s professional visions for constructing and maintaining a personal space that uses cost-effective, yet current international living concepts into a house-structure that initially appears basic. However, on closer examination, this initial impression turns out to be reflective of a minimalist, efficient and extremely evolved building scheme since it is an ecologically-sound earth construction that meets all possible needs of a tropical climate.


This self-contained, 75sqm dominantly-mezzanine apartment with a physically powerful Zen-like atmosphere pervading its rooms, of which the most interestingly constructed ones are those marking the entry into the living area that leads to the ‘room-without-walls’ idea of the couples bedroom as the curved double-height volume over these spaces, clearly shows the duo’s love for open mezzanine.

The foyer is contained in the lower floor of the apartment; it houses a neatly-aligned kitchen, living and terrace dining space – all of which have a distinct poetic but practical look to their integration into the whole Castelino Marchese creative partnership plan for their home space, which is a heady combination of traditional ideas for tropical climates and intangible models for graceful perceptual occu-pation of space. (Note the couple’s elegant and definite penchant with the various physical aspects of tropical living e.g. Bulrushes corner piece, The Bird of Paradise floral accent mid-way between living and kitchen area and other elements of nature spread out through their home).

The Castelino Marchese trademark style is then, typically a fusion of inspirational sources merging established design concepts from the past i.e. traditional architectural ideas, with futuristic design sensibilities that makes their home an eco-friendly example of a rejuvenating residence filled with various personal touches such as the seemingly ran-domly decorated, but definitely artistically pre-sented local handicraft items in brass, terracotta and glass imply. (We’d suggest you save a sigh for the coloured glass border on the mirror overlooking the living room leading to the al-fresco dining area, which works to bedazzle and visually echo the couple’s love for wall-art – worth a dekkho, if not two!)


LEFT: The kitchen area of the house is partially concealed by the solid staircase. RIGHT: A view of the tranquil living area from the open-design of the bedroom.

The Castelino Marchese home bespeaks a calming and classically Aurovillian flavor, more so on a closer study of the building materials: essential furniture and natural elements, which are obviously reflective of a universal design theory, are incorporated in a simple, rational and extremely functional man-ner, which makes it hard for the onlooker to ignore the whole, new world of informal apartment living as presented by the designer duo. An unmistakably nature-friendly approach to home designing with a view to reining in the costs without compromising on the quality and finish of the building is evident in the creative use of many natural construction materials like bamboo thatch, ferrocement, wattle and dob besides subtle introduction of compressed earth blocks and terracotta around the Castelino Marchese residence as are the various resourcefully employed architectural techniques for putting up nothing short of a poetic piece in building art.


Palpably, an open plan blueprint marks the individuality of the Castelino Marchese home, which comprises a compact yet serviceable study area, a second terrace that forms the mezzanine level that is covered by a semi-curved, exposed trapezoidal hollow terracotta roof laid out in shallow jack arches. Large fenestrations direct the observers eye all the way to the roof, which has a simple and effective covering of insect-proof meshing in an ode to past, proven traditions of anti-pest entry means and so, has been stretched over a wooden grid-frame as a shield against natural summer UFO’s, to put it lightly!

The couple’s definite penchant for combining modern elements with natural accents is evident.


The lush cover of Auroville’s varying shades of natural green provide the perfect backdrop for this Spartan but stylish apartment conceived and constructed by Castelino Marchese architects – a welcome contrast to the view of miles and miles of concrete jungle usually granted to typical city dwellers from their apartments.

Dual-purpose basic furniture is the key to achieving the uncluttered look in the Castelino Marchese home and drawing room divans that serve as comfortable guest beds is one prime example of the architects’ leaning towards practicality. Others are the rough granite-top table, metal and canvas lounging/dining chairs on the balcony, the white perforated metal wardrobe (ideal for airing clothes during the damp Indian monsoon season); small, adequate bathroom given a decidedly spacious look by the use of mirrors and tiny blue and white mosaic tiles, wooden bed podest that grants a view of the living area from the open mezzanine and assorted artworks, including an installation as well as a sculpture.

So, we find that while Pino Marchese brings with him a distinct taste of Vinci-Tuscany (where he prac-ticed pottery prior to graduating in Architecture), design schemes extensively used in architectural studios of south Italy and Florence and knowledge of urban commercial and residential building styles underlined with a remarkable contrast of finishes, including an awareness of sustainable architecture, landscaping and interior as well as product design, partner Sheril Castelino adds her discrete touch to this characteristic couples house in Auroville in no mean way.

The result is here for you to see: how simple, innovative and inexpensive cement flooring done over in a uniform ochre shade can provide a warm, wel-coming feel as it carries over into all parts of the lower floor and other aspects of a ready apartment shell can be given a classic make-over in order to create the ultimate bungalow-like home including the minimal kitchen concept with variations like a drop-down level building scheme and partially concealed design idea (the kitchen is hidden beneath a solid staircase) with a thought to the past, a view to the future and sensible design skills well in place.


Text by: Deepanjolie
Photographs: Pallon Daruwalla
Courtesy: The designer