The natural ecosystem is affected by and changed by every construction operation. A balanced future cannot be reached by gazing only at the modern environment. When designing an environmentally friendly project, the goal is to optimise the energy efficiency of the building and to reduce energy consumption in the design process. To make the right choices, the environmentally-conscious architect like Chitra Vishwanath needs to analyse the essence of these impacts.
By understanding the interplay between ecologically local factors like geography, rivers and wetlands, land topography, and our participation in each of these, we can evaluate the impacts of the buildings.
It is estimated that construction industries are one of the world’s biggest contributors of greenhouse gases and in many places account for 50% of the gross production of carbon dioxide. Recent economic development in India has led to an enormous housing shortage and the contribution of the engineering trade to the country’s rapidly rising carbon pollution burden is rising. Thus, ecologically sensitive designs are a high priority in present and upcoming times. One such project is the Rekha & Sanjay Residence, designed by Chitra Vishwanath & Anurag Tamhankar in Bangalore.
This site is situated on the outskirts of Lake Singapura and has a total area of 405 sqm that extends from the north towards the west of the site. In this lake and around in the context, several bird species, such as big egret, pond heron, waterfowl, etc., have been seen. Even juveniles check the place. This landscape is relatively flat with a gentle natural slope from the southern border to the northwest. The house has a built-up area of 250 sqm.
This home comprises two units, one belonging to Rekha and Sanjay and another for the parents of Sanjay. A warm central courtyard with a palm tree at the entrance and rain links is the main feature of this building. The lake overlooks the underwater light in several of the rooms. When you reach the main building you will receive a glimpse of Bollywood concealed in its grills, three telescopic vaulted living and dining areas.
Chitra Vishwanath has used ‘Atthangudi’ tiles and made a feathery bird atop along with the play of light and shadow by two smaller vaults made of porous clay tiles and cement with a big RCC vault, all completed through hand construction. In an open kitchen, sitting and dining preparation gives the place a spacious feel.
Details of Design
The house consists of different roofing systems from RCC finished slabs with kite stamps and hollow clay tile vaults, providing a wide range of spacious living in all areas. In connection with the packing of wood and fragments for thermal insulation, ‘onduline’ roofing sheets made of farm waste are used. These are some very effective ecologically supportive options proposed by Chitra Vishwanath. Throughout the day and year, such passive techniques enable natural light and ventilation to reduce functioning energy needs in all spaces.
Another scheme is solar active technology, such as solar water and PV panels, which further reduce the house’s electricity dependence to achieve full energy independence. Skylight in the living, as well as the toilet room, provides adequate airflow and light even though there’s no actual window present.
Inside the little powder room, there’s a cute tiny treat, and that also makes the interior more subtle. This is a granite washbasin that marvels the guest with a peddle tap and granite faucet controlled by the pendulum. The house’s master bedroom is in the southwest corner on the ground floor. The fish fillers of the ‘Escher’ pattern and the jaali wall of colourful windows make the room seem magical. Cold western winds coming from the back of the window seat circulate at the frame level.
The second unit arranged on the right is for Sanjay’s parents which sits on the eastern side, which has a continuous passage from the entrance to the main door safeguarding obstacle-free access throughout the ground floor of the residence. Chitra Vishwanath made sure that the space is equipped with many fixed glass openings and white interiors so that there is a sufficient amount of light. The toilet of this particular unit is made easily accessible with a wheelchair passage facility. The rough adobe walls which are kept exposed externally give a sense of intimacy to the entire building.
Water & Solid Waste Management
The entire house has a dual plumbing system – one for recycled grey water and another for freshwater. Every drop of rainwater is collected as 1,44,000-litre from 160 sq. m. of the roof with the help of two rain chains that surround the central courtyard. It is stored in a huge 17,000-litre storage tank. A designated clean roof area is available here for lifeline water and this harvested water is only used for drinking and cooking.
Greywater is then processed using a revamped Soil Bio-Technology method, where a renewable water purification system saves 40 litres/person each day and is used for flushing and gardening.
Most of the waste that is generated in a household is wet organic waste, which can be separated from trash and transformed into compost at the household level. The dry waste is widely divided into what can and cannot be recycled and the organic/reusable waste goes to sites, situated very close to the villages on the outskirts of Bangalore. The foundation of a building, plinth fillings, dropped floors, etc., are the best spot for waste retention.
Here, for this house, Chitra Vishwanath conducted a cleaning initiative around the locality and about 10,000 plastic containers were collected through it, which are reused and assembled into the foundation and plinth of the house.