Hornbill House overlooks an Indian tea plantation
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Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions faces out over an Indian tea plantation

This holiday chalet by Bangalore firm Biome Environmental Solutions has walls of stone and mud brick, and nestles into a hillside overlooking a tea and coffee plantation in southern India (+ slideshow).

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

Hornbill House shelters below a tree in the grounds of the O'land plantation in Nilgiri, a district of Tamil Nadu. The foundations of the small homestay are laid on the plantation's old drying yard between a rocky waterfall and a forest.

It is one of nine holiday cottages commissioned from the Bangalore firm that will dot the grounds of the 135-acre estate for short-term lets.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

"The estate is an end-of-the-road property, bordering forest lands and commanding spectacular views," said the architects.

"The house opens onto the views of a waterfall, a valley with a backdrop of layers of mountains in different hues of blue of the sky, and green of the tea gardens, thereby integrating each of these views strategically from a different direction from within the house."

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

The walls of Hornbill House are clad in stone to match the rocky terrain, while inside earth brick walls are paired with rustic timber furniture and richly coloured textiles to offer a more homely atmosphere.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

An arrow-shaped roof gives the structure an aerodynamic appearance and shelters a small terrace in front of the master bedroom.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

"The striking roof of the villa invokes a sense of flight that one feels while gazing at the views of the valley and hills from within the building," said the team.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

From its elevated position on the hillside, the terrace takes in views of the surrounding mountains and the leafy plantation, and offers occupants a chance to see passing bison and monkeys.

A further bedroom and open-plan living areas set on the ground floor have access to terraces.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

All nine chalets are planned for similarly secluded areas of the estate, picked out to lessen the impact of a large hotel on the site.


Related content: see more holiday homes


Existing trails will dictate the location of each property, which will be set at a distance from each other to provide privacy and different settings for return guests.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

"In subsequent discussions with the client, we suggested that these bungalows be located over the expanse of the property rather than a close-knit development," explained the architects.

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions

Across the Palk Strait from Tamil Nadu is this holiday home in Sri Lanka, which is raised on stilts over a rubber plantation. Like Hornbill House, it features a viewing platform above the tree canopy and is designed for holidaymakers seeking a rural retreat.

Photography is by Vivek Muthuramalingam.


Project credits:

Architects: Biome Environmental Solutions
Design team: Chitra Vishwanath, Anurag Tamhankar, Sharath Nayak
Structural engineer: Shashidar KS
Contractor: Narayan MC

Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions
First floor plan – click for larger image
Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions
Section one – click for larger image
Hornbill House by Biome Environmental Solutions
Section two – click for larger image