Construct of the past
Think of them as modern homes with a touch of tradition. Architects are putting chajjas on windows, adding courtyards to floorplans, and using mud and dung on walls. The result? Chic urban homes that go green as they honour their roots, and still have an
Ahouse with walls of mud, lime, cow dung and burnt brick may sound like a farmer’s hut, but it is also a beautiful new two-storey bungalow in Vasai.
“I wanted to revive the methods of architecture used by our forefathers,” says Shardul Patil, 27, owner and architect of the house.
He is part of Design Jatra, a firm that uses traditional architecture to make sustainable homes across the country.
“The cow dung and mud will help keep the house cool and drive insects away. We’ve also used eight different types of wood in the construction – this is a tribal method that prevents one species of tree from being depleted,” says Pratik Dhanmer, principal architect at Design Jatra.
Architects and builders are following in the footsteps of their ancestors to develop projects that are aesthetic and have less impact on the environment. “Traditional building practices provide strong fundamentals that are still relevant,” says Gurjot Bhatia, managing director-Project management group, CBRE South Asia, a real-estate consultancy.
“The processes are simple and materials are sourced locally, thus reducing carbon footprint and costs,” he says. TIMELESS TRICKS Green buildings are an ancient concept. The designs prevalent in the ancient Roman and Persian civilisations were green by default, and traditional building techniques across India have tended to be so too, mainly because in the absence of electricity, it was important to capitalise on natural light and air flow.
“The stone homes in Rajasthan and Gujarat were temperature regulators on the inside,” says architect Wasim Noori of Put Your Hands Together, a bioarchitecture firm based in Ban- dra. “We cannot use stone as much in the cities because highrise buildings have to be windresistant and lighter in weight, and stone is too heavy and inflexible, so we try to use composites of stone and mud on the walls in the projects that are a few storeys high.”
Such walls are affordable, can bear the load of the building and keep the indoors cool,” he adds.
A two-year-old Haware Builders project in Shreevardhan is an example of this. Its 21 villas have been built not with brick but with laterite rock. “The rock is locally available, low-cost and insulating, and it also adds old-world charm,” says managing director Ankit Haware.
Incorporating elements of traditional architecture can even help you get green building certification? “Having a courtyard, for instance, increases ventilation and flow of natural light, thus conserving energy and helping your green rating,” says Mala Singh, chairperson and managing director of PEC Greening India, a green building consultancy. “Using fly ash instead of bricks and installing chhajjas or overhang on the edges of roofs and jaalis for natural lighting and temperature control can help,” adds Singh.
Isprava developers, for instance, added traditional semi-covered verandahs and courtyards to their Goa projects, Villa Verde, Villa Evora and Villa Azul, built over last two years.
“The homes also have stone walls and Mangalore tile roofs with in-built ventilation over kitchens and bathrooms,” says founder and CEO Nibhrant Shah. “It made the homes look appealing.”
One of the buyers at Isprava’s Villa Evora in Goa is Mohan Shah, 29. “My home stays cool even in harsh summer afternoons and I get compliments from guests about the haveli feel,” he says.
Using water-based paints, fly ash instead of brick, and stone wherever possible can also reduce the cost of construction, says Pratik Dhanmer, principal architect at Design Jatra. “Such material can be sourced locally, so you save on transport and are not affected as much by fluctuating market prices of construction material such as cement and bricks,” he adds.
Having a courtyard in the building increases ventilation and enhances the flow of natural light, thus conserving energy and helping your project get a better green rating. MALA SINGH, chairperson and managing director of PEC Greening India, a green building consultancy
(Clockwise from left) Vishal Achpilia’s fiveroom house in Khadavli has walls made of sundried soil brick and restored teak wood furniture. Shardul Patil’s Vasai home has cow dung and mud walls, and used eight types of wood in construction, as a green cover conservation technique. Semicovered verandas and courtyards at Isprava’s Villa Evora in Goa. Haware’s Shreevardhan project has 21 villas made using laterite rock rather than bricks and concrete.