Your house can be eco-friendly, local, vernacular, rural and yet structurally strong, with NIRD support. By Sathya Prakash Varanashi
Today there are thousands of institutions, architects, engineers and builders across India trying to promote non-conventional, eco-friendly alternatives in architecture and construction. And they all know why these appropriate ideas stay in the back burner – majority of potential owners who are inclined to the non-conventional are apprehensive, and the rest anyway are not convinced!
After all, customised houses cannot have prototypes, demonstrations, samples, test walls, material trials, model houses or any kind of construction rehearsals. Naturally, worries persist tempting people go with the mainstream cement and steel-based house. Habits die hard, even in this age of attraction of the innovation.
Given this apprehension most house owners have, the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Rural Development embarked upon a novel idea – actually constructing rooms and houses using the alternative, eco-friendly, local, vernacular and rural typologies handpicked from different regions of India.
Innumerable design, material and construction options can be seen, walked into and experienced across 15 built structures, with a visually sweeping master plan.
The list of ideas demonstrated is long, but to state a few – mud walls in stabilised blocks, adobe, cob and rammed earth; stone in random rubble walls; arch foundations; fly ash columns and walls; vaults with conical tiles; jack arch roof; ferro-cement channels; bricks; laterite; bamboo mats; wattle and daub; filler slabs; stone roofs; corbels; brick domes; CGI sheets, MCR tiles; perforated jaali walls; brick panels roofs; precast slabs; catenary curves; conical tiled roofs; round Bhunga huts; stone and timber lower Himalayan house; skylights; rat-trap bond; bamboo house; stabilised non-eroding mud plastering; walls with exposed materials; rainwater harvesting; lime mortars; boulder pack foundations; sanitation methods; solar energy; tile support in wood and steel; and pre-cast lintels.
What makes these structures convincing is partly due to the expert teams who made the centre possible – AP Habtech; CSV – Wardha; Habitat Group of Thiruvananthapuram and Hunnarshala from Bhuj with secondary literature inputs from varied sources. As such, the Rural Technology Park demonstrates the do-ability of cost- and resource-efficient architecture.
Considering that such a unique centre for demonstrating the feasibility of ecological alternatives was done way back in 2003-04, it’s sad to see most of the ideas still being relegated to the back burner.
Being termed as Rural Technology Park could be a reason, for all that we see here can be in our unsustainable urban centres of today. For those who cannot travel all the way to Hyderabad just to see the model constructions, an extremely well-illustrated compilation by the technically qualified project team is available at the centre.
Seeing is believing
Scepticism and apprehension cannot be ruled out by assurances, especially while investing lifelong savings in one house. We cannot experience the house before it’s built, but at least seeing can be believing.
That’s what RTP at NIRD provides and proves.
(The author can be contacted at email@example.com)
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