The built environment is the relationship between the natural environment and the man-made environment. The architectural environment that is influenced by regional materials, surroundings, climate, and numerous socioeconomic factors is referred to as vernacular architecture. A significant part of the effective dominance of vernacular constructed form is played by all of these materials. It is the materials and their availability that guide the users with its techniques which over the years have become defining and now recognized across the world. Although all of these materials are widespread throughout the nation, each area has its distinctive style of building that sets it apart and explores a range of construction methods. These houses are later decorated with various motifs and patterns that reflect their culture and tell stories that are unique to their neighborhood. In the Indian context, some of the materials are as follows
Cob is a type of earthen construction that uses a combination of clay, sand, straw, and water. The slurry is worked into lumps using the hands, feet, and a few rudimentary tools, which are then used to build the house’s foundation and walls. The walls are usually 24 inches thick with windows recessed inside giving a characteristic appearance. Cob construction is highly fireproof, earthquake resistant and promotes low-cost housing in rural areas. Along with this, the cob technique also serves as energy-efficient construction which leaves a minimum carbon footprint.
The Rammed Earth construction technique involves various kinds of soil in a particular form of framework. This formwork is made up of wood or steel frame to withhold the soil and provide a respective form. The soil contains adequate proportions of sand, clay, and slit which is supported by an appropriate stabilizer that increases the binding capacity. In recent times, Rammed Earth has again been recognized for its colorful and textured walls giving a traditional character to the urban setting. Again, Rammed Earth construction is highly sustainable, cost-effective and easy to construct, and energy efficient.
Indian is amongst the largest producer of Bamboo in the world and therefore vast traditional knowledge has been explored over the years. The foundation and structure are constructed using bamboo slits in combination with local wood while the walls are built using woven bamboo strips that are then plastered with mud. The roofs, doors, and windows are again a combination of bamboo and local wood that is available in the region. When treated appropriately, bamboo construction is highly economical and healthy due to its sustainable quotient.
A type of building material that has been used for thousands of years and has been one of the noted materials for religious architecture. It has been recognized for its durability and artistic quality that can be achieved through craving. Putting up stone walls required skilled labor, where the gap between larger stones is filled with mortar and smaller stones. It could be used for the construction of floors, walls, structures, foundations, and various other parts of the building making it one of the most versatile vernacular materials. It also requires very less maintenance and is suitable for all climatic conditions.
Lime is best recognized as plastering material and is often found in the plasters of rural houses. It acts as a finishing material, that gives a clean smooth finish to the house. Along with its aesthetic qualities, it also possesses’ various benefits such as self-healing properties in cracks, insect repellent as well as a weathering course to maintain a cooler temperature. Lime plaster in modern architecture is recognized for its look giving a sense of rawness it is available in a variety of colors today.
Thatch is used by mankind since the most ancient times, as the raw material is available almost everywhere. Dry sticks along with fibers, straw, reed, and leaves all combine to form a thatched roof. These roofs are conical in shape, where the slope is maintained to run off the water. The material flexibility allows the roof to be shaped in all organic forms. The lightweight characteristic proves to be one of the most used roof materials since no load is transferred to the walls. It provides excellent insulation and it is even used widely across the rural regions of India.
Wood is a highly recognized biodegradable, recyclable, and easily available material across all regions as per the type of tree. It is used for the structural framework of the building giving it the required strength. A lot of different joineries and details can be explored in wooden construction given its unique characteristics. It is also known for thermal and acoustic insulation as well as for being fire resistant. The wooden sections used as beams and columns are now contemporized to be used as flooring and ceiling. It reduces the carbon footprint of the building making it one of the most efficient buildings in vernacular architecture.
Laterite is a red stone that formed due to the compression of red soil found on the western coast of India. This red soil is rich in iron and aluminum. The soil is extracted from the ground using machinery that is not very expensive making the construction economical. It provided thermal insulation and is highly eco-friendly. Laterite is usually used in the construction of walls of the houses which are constructed similar to the that of brick using lime and mortar. The red stone gives aesthetic exteriors and interiors while providing all the advantages of vernacular architecture. It is mostly used in the houses of Goa and Malabar Region.
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