Ancient civilizations believed that the processes of the cosmos were directly influenced by human existence. With this understanding, ancient human civilizations have always respected nature and lived in harmony with it. Ancient architecture seems to have adopted several sustainable techniques in construction, centuries before the word ‘sustainability’ became a well-known concept. Indian architecture is a millennia-old reservoir of mind-boggling architecture and green-engineering. Therefore, while we replace modern energy-depleting technology with completely new technologies, we must also study the solutions developed in ancient times and combine it with contemporary technological innovations to achieve better efficiency and significant results in sustainable architecture.

1. Jharokhas

 Sustainable practices in traditional ancient Indian architecture - Sheet1

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur is named so because it houses over nine-hundred-and-fifty projected, perforated openings, known as Jharokhas. This is a smart technique to naturally improve air circulation inside the building, without compromising on privacy.

2. Roshandan

 Sustainable practices in traditional ancient Indian architecture - Sheet2

A Roshandan is a notable feature of several houses in North India. These openings are located high on the walls, and often above windows so that they can be kept open to allow heated air just below the ceiling to escape while retaining relatively cooler air inside.
During winter, they are kept closed and used purely for natural lighting.

3. Jaali

 Sustainable practices in traditional ancient Indian architecture - Sheet3

Jaali is an architectural element that uses environmental dynamics to create living-comfort. It is a latticed screen, usually with an ornamental pattern. Since the speed of air increases when it passes through narrow openings, even if there is a mild wind outside, the Jaali screen still manages to create a good inflow of air. These perforations also allow in daylight without glare.

4. Baori

 Sustainable practices in traditional ancient Indian architecture - Sheet4

Stepwells, also known as Baoris are wells in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps to the water level. This is a vernacular architectural style seen mostly in medieval India. The air around this pool of water is constantly cooled through the process of evaporation.

5. High ceilings

 Sustainable practices in traditional ancient Indian architecture - Sheet5

The science behind ancient high ceiling constructions is that hot air rises and escapes through the ventilators, thus cooling the interiors.


Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.

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