GAL­AXY SCHOOL

Revel in the old, revel in the waste

Down to Earth - - LIFESTYLE -

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

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