For the past three years, engineer-architect Aravind Manoharan has been receiving a lot of inquiries about sustainable houses. “There are two sets of people who approach me — the first set is those who are aware of how a natural or sustainable building affects our eco-system. The second set is people who wanted to build something unique and cost-effective. Many IT professionals are quitting their job and taking up organic farming. They are settling in villages and are opting to build sustainable houses on their own with the help of local masons. This is a welcoming change,” Aravind tells DT Next.
There are mainly two types of architectural practices when it comes to eco-friendly buildings — indigenous or region-specific architecture and sustainable architecture. “The former method is mainly practiced in villages — it is reintroducing endangered building methodologies. It will be raw and region-specific. The local materials used to make such houses are mud, lime, neem wood, etc. Sustainable architecture practices are mainly followed in cities. Also, the methodologies followed in both architectural practices are different. In cities, people prefer athangudi tiles, unplastered exposed walls, filler slabs and so on. But in villages, we use mudwalls (cobwalls), lime flooring, pot roof tiles, lime plastering, etc,” the young architect says.
Aravind observes that the popular Laurie Baker style houses are having more takers in Chennai. “People are reading a lot about architecture, designs, housing, etc. Laurie Baker style houses are slowly becoming popular in Tamil Nadu. There should be more awareness on sustainable housing and also government and other organisations should support people who are willing to build such houses,” he adds.
Popular architect Benny Kuriakose says that sustainability is not just putting solar panels on roofs, but it has more to do with the overall design of the house. “Sustainability has to be looked at from different perspectives — it can be maximum usage of natural light, ventilation, using eco-friendly materials and so on. Sustainability has to be introduced in the designs first. Once the design is done, then other elements will fall in place,” Benny says.