The courtyard house of Goa harks back to a long tradition of dwellings with a central space open to the skies circumscribed by rooms on all sides, a model as much functional in keeping the house cool in the hot climate, as of sacred inspiration.
Along the famed Konkan coast, we find references to courtyard houses from the later medieval period onwards. Indeed, in order to find a suitable precedent to the patio house of Goa we need look no further than the domestic and monumental architecture of Vijayanagar. While the churches and sacred buildings of Goa have been the focus of a majority of studies on the built heritage of Goa, in more recent times, there has been increasing awareness that the resplendent houses of Goa are as deserving of careful attention. For visitors returning from Goa, images of the houses with colourful facades and romantic porches are as evocative of their Goan sojourn as those of the magnificent, whitewashed churches.
However, today this distinct domestic architecture of historical Goa faces a deep threat. Once, the symbols of prosperity, many have today fallen into disrepair. In this lovingly detailed and thoroughly documented new book, Angelo Silveira takes us on a journey through the form of the Goan courtyard house, and the traditional techniques and materials which contributed to the construction of this unique dwelling.
He also makes us aware of the need for a more concerted programme to conserve the courtyard house of Goa, and leaves us with a few tips on the same. Lived Heritage, Shared Space is a book as much for the student of architecture, or practising architect as it is for anyone who has ever visited or plans to visit Goa. Illustrated with more than 100 colour and black&white photographs, it is a treat for the eyes, as well as an important comment on the need to save a unique built heritage of India.
Angelo Costa Silveira is a conservation architect of Goan origin based in Lisbon, Portugal.
Angelo Costa Silveira