Sustainable architecture is based on ecological thinking and it involves science and imagination based on nature’s creation. The main aim of sustainable architecture is to change or evolve perceptions, lives, and expectations without damaging the ecosystem. Before the Industrial Revolution, most of the architecture was in nature as they were based on the adaptation of climate and local materials to meet the demands of the people. If we look back at the history of the architecture we can get to know how our ancestors used to build sustainable architecture using different construction methods and local materials available.

Let us go back to before the starting of civilization to the Stone Age. When we think about the Stone Age the picture that comes to our mind is of the Palaeolithic Age, the earliest period of the Stone Age. Survival was of utmost importance for the people of this era because they had very little technology. These people were nomadic and moved from one place to another and they used to have temporary settlements and we don’t have much evidence of them.

From the cave paintings, we come to know that these people made their homes in caves. They also used to build huts which had stone bases, walls made up of straws or woods and straw roofs, these huts were for temporary use. Paleolithic people also used to build stone fireplace or hearth in their caves and huts which they used for cooking or simply to keep their house warm. 

What history can teach us about sustainable architecture - Sheet1
Ancient Egyptian house] [Source- ©]
Moving on to the great civilizations we can see how the people of these civilizations used to build marvelous structures without tampering the ecosystem. The Egyptian civilization was one of the most stable civilizations, it was an agrarian civilization rather than an urban one. The Egyptian set their environmental policies which somehow helped them in maintaining the ecological balance. The Egyptian civilization had three categories of people, the royals, the nobles, and the peasants. The houses were classified according to the class category but the materials used for building any type of dwelling were usually the same. The standard material used throughout the Dynastic period was mud and stones. Stone was used for architectural elements occasionally, such as door jambs, columns bases, and windows.

All the structures constructed were according to the orientation of the sun and wind directions. A modest workman’s house used to have three or four rooms within a rectangular plan. The kitchen was usually situated away from the living area and bedroom. There were small windows to keep the heat outside and to lower the inside temperature. 

The building materials used for the construction in the Indus Valley civilization was similar to that of the Egyptian civilization, the only difference was that the people of Indus Valley civilization also used kiln burnt bricks. The houses were rectangular in plan oriented in North-South direction with small openings to lower the internal temperature and achieve the highest indoor thermal comfort. 

What history can teach us about sustainable architecture - Sheet2
[Indus Valley civilization House] [Source- ©]
Most of the ancient civilizations used local materials and construction techniques which reflected their tradition and culture. Sustainable architecture is all about fulfilling the needs of people without changing the ecosystem. The ancient civilizations were pro at sustainable architecture. With the advancement of technology and the discovery of new material, the modern era has lost the use of sustainable architecture but now we need to learn from the great ancient civilizations and practice sustainable architecture.

What history can teach us about sustainable architecture - Sheet3
[Modern sustainable architecture] [Source- ©]
Modam Shahid

She is a budding architect hailing from the city of joy, Kolkata. With dreams in her eyes and determination in her will, she is all set to tell stories about buildings, cultures, and people through her point of view. She hopes you all enjoy her writings. Much love.

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