For Kumar BS and Deepika V, based out of Bengaluru and software engineers by profession, despite living in the metropolitan city where skyscrapers rise tall, a mud house held a different kind of fascination.
Speaking to The Better India, Kumar says, “We were never interested in living in a contemporary house. We were always inspired by our ancestors’ home and decided to build our eco-friendly home with mud and stone.”
A sustainable plot in a city of high rises
Once set on the idea of a sustainable home, the duo went headlong into researching various ways to make the plot greener. In the process, they learned about the importance of using eco-friendly materials, and how it could go a long way in reducing the carbon footprint they left behind on the Earth.
Wishing to perfect the home, they reached out to architects who specialised in this area of construction. “Under the guidance of acclaimed architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi — the man behind ‘Sathya Consultants’ which has been practising eco-friendly and cost-effective architecture for the past 28 years now — we were briefed about the materials that would be needed. Once certain about it, we began the execution with labourers. Despite having no background in the area of civil construction, we undertook the task and today can proudly say that there is so much that we have learned,” notes Kumar.
Taking viewers through a visual journey of the home, Kumar explains its various aspects.
As you enter the home, a whiff of mitti will greet you. The duo has gone to the very basics and employed the use of mud to build the walls. They have used stones for the roof and foundation and lime for plastering walls.
They have also used oxide flooring as it is an ideal fit for warmer climes and makes the house equipped to deal with rising temperatures, such as those that the city is experiencing.
Going through the living room, you will see how cement blocks have been replaced with mud blocks in the architecture. Beautiful terracotta hanging lights take the aesthetic of the home up a notch.
While you marvel at the roof, the ground too has been laid keeping the sustainable angle in mind. Chapadi stones have been used for a stepped footing foundation and also in parts of the walls to enhance the natural look and feel of the home.
Other alternatives of natural tiles, such as Kadapa, Shahabad, Kota, and slate have also been used in the flooring plan. These durable flooring tiles prove to be weather-resistant and are easy to maintain.
You will notice something different in the layout. In contrast to the modern-day ‘pillar construction’, the sustainable home has a load-bearing structure. This architectural style involves the use of more economical materials; along with being simple and highly solid.
There are French windows that let the air circulate, and provide room for cross ventilation throughout the day. The courtyard is situated in the east-facing direction with tall glass ventilation.
The windows are further supplied with natural handmade Korai grass rollers. These have a special characteristic of not absorbing heat despite the surrounding temperature says Kumar, and thus make for great alternatives to usual panes.
Take a minute to admire the decor that has been made with recycled pine wood. This includes the doors, furniture, etc. “This has reduced the cost of the interior by 50 per cent,” remarks Kumar.
Take the stairs which have been built with thick granite stone in contrast to the customary concrete. The restroom, too, has been constructed with slate stone while the kitchen has wall cladding.
As you step out onto the roof, you will notice that the construction sees a filler slab in an attempt to reduce the use of reinforced cement concrete. In addition, Mangalore tiles are a beautiful addition.
Almost 90 per cent of the home has exposed walls without plastering and pointing.
Along with a solar water heater, the family has also set up a rainwater harvesting system that harvests 10,000 litres which fulfils the needs of four people for three months. “This rainwater harvesting setup without individual bore well reduces the water bill by 40 per cent per year,” says Kumar.
On the terrace, the sustainable approach continues. The family believes in compost preparation and uses this technique to grow their plants and vegetables.
Their terrace garden is abundant in seasonal produce.
The family also has a natural dish wash system that they have set up.
The duo began constructing the house in July 2019 and completed the 2600 square feet marvel by January 2021. Due to the uniqueness of the construction, there were trained labourers who were a part of this.
Summers in Bengaluru tend to get extreme. Will the sustainable home hold out during this period?
“Yes,” notes Kumar. “The house is self-regulated and is breathable. It is warmer in winter and cooler in summer by 2-3 degrees.”
“Everyone should understand the importance of what we leave behind for our future generations,” he says. “We need to make changes to the way we live and use the resources available to us. We need to concentrate more on reusing or recycling in our daily lives.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao