With the growing urbanization, the construction industry is one of the largest consumers of natural resources as well as one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, there is a dire need for structural designs that have minimal effect on the environment. Green and sustainable buildings are upcoming positive concepts in this direction.
Over the past few decades, a new breed of Indian architects and builders are going against the grain and adopting sustainability as a defining attribute of their work. We introduce you to some of these sustainability architects in India who choose to honor time-tested building techniques while conserving natural resources to create structures that stand in harmony with nature:
Chitra Vishwanath is an expert on sustainable architecture, who started her own architectural firm, ‘Chitra K. Vishwanath Architects, in 1991. Later, her Bengaluru-based company merged with city-based Rainwater Club to establish Biome Environmental Solutions, an endeavor of which Chitra is the Managing Director.
The firm solely focuses on creating building designs in response to climate change through the intelligent use of natural resources and minimizing waste streams. She has been involved in at least 500 sustainable building projects using renewable materials like mud, etc. Energy-efficient measures are employed including water conservation and demand management while eliminating all chemical-based substances like paints, promoting recycling, and reuse. Mud is an integral part of Chitra’s designs, owing to its easy availability, labor intensiveness, and ease of construction.
Dharmesh Jadeja established Dustudio, formerly BuildAur in Auroville in 1992, with the vision of promoting traditional knowledge and contemporary architectural practices that are sustainable, energy-efficient, and economically viable. His projects reflect a uniqueness while celebrating indigenous techniques and traditions. Jadeja is also known for his calligraphy, a personal expression that allows him to balance out the demands of the architectural profession.
Dustudio not only engages in mainstream architecture encompassing residential, hospitality, and urban designing but collaborates with various institutions and NGOs for heritage conservation processes, affordable rural housing programs, etc. One such project, in collaboration with Shaurya Foundation, is the Dhrafa Studio. Located in Dharmesh’s hometown of Porbandar, Dhrafa studio aims to establish creative ties between urban and rural communities through research and study programs.
Hailing from Mumbai, Trupti Doshi strongly believes that buildings are supposed to complement their environment and not compete with it. She co-founded the Auroma Group in 2014, a firm based in Puducherry. This craftswoman is known for her eco-friendly colloquial architecture which includes natural eco-friendly building materials, waste management, thermal comfort, and use of renewables. She was the chief co-architect at Shri Aurobindo Society and also an international NGO.
She gained widespread recognition as the youngest female architect to have been featured in the United Nations Environment Programme for co-creating Sharanam- phase 1– Institute for Rural Transformation. This ambitious project has been designed as the headquarters of Sri Aurobindo Society’s rural development programs, built entirely of unrefined earth. She has featured on platforms like Yourstory and spoken at TEDx.
Revathi Sekhar Kamath
The creator of the tallest stainless steel structure in India Revathi Sekhar Kamath is a very well-known proponent of earth architecture. Known as the pioneer of mud architecture, she started her career in 1978 with the architectural firm Stein, Doshi, and Bhalla and now leads the Delhi-based Kamath Design Studio. The idea for Kamath Design Studio was born from her work with The Group for Rural and Urban Planning.
A functional and recyclable structure is at the core of her designs. Revathi commemorates mud in all her creations, even her own house a mud structure built over an abandoned quarry, is a testament to her love for earth-friendly architecture. She has also worked on rehabilitating slum-dwellers, and three of her projects were also nominated for the Agha Khan Award. These include the Akshay Pratishthan School at Delhi, Community Center at Maheshwar, and Nalin Tomar House at Hauz Khas, Delhi. Currently, she is working on a Museum for Tribal Heritage in Bhopal.
An author, activist, academician, researcher, and practicing ecological architect, Yatin Pandya started his firm ‘FOOTPRINTS E.A.R.T.H’ (Environment Architecture Research Technology Housing), in Ahmedabad. The organization is involved in architectural design, research, alternative technology, and affordable housing. Pandya believes in a holistic approach to architecture by keeping environmental and socio-economic aspects in mind while designing. Hence, they use municipal plastic and metal waste to design and build.
The firm has also favored several innovative building techniques that involve remodeling of waste, for example, using empty vegetable crates to make doors. Pandya has won several accolades for his work in the field of architecture. His eminent works include a housing project at Ludiya, the Shantivan Memorial at Delhi, and the Swapna Shrishti Resort at Gandhinagar. His creation known as the ‘Toilet Park’ aims to raise awareness about sanitation issues.
Dean D’Cruz co-founded Mozaic in Goa in 2001 to promote sustainable architectural practices. In 1986, he was introduced to the idea as a partner at the firm ‘Natural Architecture’, which focussed on sustainable architect. Since then, he has focused on environment-friendly and cost-effective buildings, reviving Goa’s local building traditions. He has also been part of the State Level Committee for the making of the Regional Plan 2021 for Goa.
However, his influence reaches beyond Goa, as can be seen from his project, the Taj Fisherman’s Cove in Chennai. The hospitality endeavor has been created by revamping an old Dutch fort. Resorts and lodges in the lap of nature are somewhat of a trademark for this firm. One such example is the Coconut Creeks, situated in what was originally a thick coconut grove with several irrigation creeks.
To be continued…