Aravind Manoharan, a civil engineer-turned-architect, got intrigued by these mud houses and has come up with an architectural documentary series where he collects information on existing mud wall construction. “Salliman is a type of mud that is commonly found in the kongu region of Tamil Nadu. It contains stable mud and small limestone. People from the olden days used to construct houses with this type of mud that has a lot of properties. After understanding the benefits of salliman wall, I thought of documenting such houses — this will be useful for the new generation of architects and civil engineers. We aim to encourage them to reintroduce the old methods of building construction,” says Aravind.
He has started documenting the native architectural method in Vellakovil region in Tiruppur district. “My friend Bharath Raju accompanies me to meet people who own salliman wall houses. Some of them have constructed the house on their own and others would have sought help from others. By interacting with them, we get to know the construction methods and techniques. We photograph the houses and sometimes, we do video interviews as well,” he shares.
The engineer plans to involve more like-minded people in the documentation process. “We might not be able to travel the entire state. So, if someone is interested to take up the documentation in their region, we can guide them. We also get to know the evolution of the construction method through this.”
Explaining the benefits of salliman wall construction, he says, “The mud can breathe — it can retain coolness in summer and hotness in winter inside the room. Since it is a very simple method, it has been used by all types of people from the economically backward to the affluent.”