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

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - NEWS - Lav­ina Mulchan­dani lav­ina.mulchan­dani@htlive.com

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.

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