Revel in the old, revel in the waste
THE GALAXY School in Rajkot follows a principle of minimum carbon footprint through recycling, reuse and use of renewable material. After the 2000 earthquake, huge quantities of rubble from broken buildings were thrown outside the city. This and industrial wastes like fly ash from a Gujarat Electricity Board thermal plant, gypsum-waste from the sanitary ware industry at Thangadh and lime-waste from Tata Chemicals Ltd, Mithapur, have been used as the primary building blocks. The trusses for the roof are made from steel pipes brought from the ship-breaking works at Alang. The roofing incorporates renewable matting of date palm leaves on a bamboo framework over which a final layer of thatch has been laid, says Surya Kakani of Kakani Associates that has designed the school.
Surya has applied the philosophy in building his house. Nestled in a concrete jungle of Ahmedabad, his house is in perfect harmony with nature and does not require an air-conditioner. Two years ago, it was just an old housing board tenement with some persistence problems. In fact, the initial plan of the Kakanis was to raze it to the ground and build afresh. But after some deliberations, they realised that tearing down a structurally working building was a huge waste of resources. So they decided to make something wonderful out of the existing building, rather than designing a new structure and creating more waste.
Through their travels across the country, the couple had observed that certain traditional practices were still relevant and applicable in today’s context. They chose materials that are low in embodied energy, and technologies that are sustainable and energy-efficient. They took a conscious call on not using paints and polishes as they contain volatile organic compounds, and used lime plaster instead of cement, recycled wood instead of aluminium or steel, and glass only at places where heat ingress is minimal. By not demolishing the old structure, the couple now have a house with thick load bearing walls and a thick roof, thanks to the vegetable garden on the roof. Together, these features insulate the house. The Kakanis have also installed a wind catcher on the roof to let fresh air in so that the house remains comfortable in all seasons. This has eliminated the need for air-conditioning. “Now all five rooms of our two-and-a-half storey house receive fresh air through a duct, ventilating and cooling the house,” adds Surya.
The living space on the ground floor is designed in a way so that the verandah opens onto a courtyard. Rainwater is harvested for drinking and the excess water is diverted into ground recharge wells in the courtyard. Water drained from the washing machine is used to flush toilets and that from the kitchen sink goes into the banana plantation. A solar water heater has replaced the geyser in the house. The home also nurtures its own ecosystem with a fish and lotus pond, vegetables and a herb garden, and indigenous plants to nest native birds. The couple now plans to raise the ecofriendly bar of their house by installing a solarcum-wind turbine and go off grid.
LOCATION Rajkot, Gujarat COST Not available INNOVATION After the 2000 earthquake, huge quantities of rubble from broken buildings were thrown outside the city. This and industrial wastes, such as fly ash, have been used as the primary building blocks KAKANI ASSOCIATES