Eugene Pandala is an Indian architect born in Kolam, Kerala, whose works show his deep connection to the roots of his hometown. He grew up to be a nature lover and conservator. And, with the same intent, he took up architecture as a medium of expression and a way to return to nature. Despite his designs being at par with the world-class standards, they posit the regional Indian touch.
“I have been brought up in an environment conducive to the creative freedom of expression. My father was an artist, and his way of life has inspired me to choose a profession that’s passionate about creative articulation,” said Eugene, a man to whom nature talked back.
Nature being his primary source of inspiration, architect Eugene Pandala believes that his buildings are mere extensions of the earth, just as the famous saying goes: a tree’s beauty lies in its branches, but its strength lies in its roots. One can say that his early exposure to the traditional building techniques incited the desire to explore it furthermore and propound sustainable ways of living through architecture.
The Sustainable Approach
Architect Eugene Pandala believes that sustainability is a way of life and the easiest way to spread the message loud and clear is through architecture. As architecture dictates the lifestyle of the people, it can successfully change people’s outlook and their customary practices. With sensitivity towards nature and people, Eugene builds using natural materials, and his projects reflect his spirit of preserving our heritage through sustainable practices.
Here are 5 iconic projects by Eugene Pandala:
1. Bodhi (Earth Home) | Eugene Pandala
Bodhi was Architect Eugene Pandala’s first project which brought him into the public eye and paved his way to many awards and accolades. This residential project built in the year 1996 is an illustration of sustainable and practical design utilizing natural materials. The built and the un-built spaces derived by the wind movement and the climate charts of the location offer passive ventilation contributing to energy conservation. This nature-sensitive and climate-responsive house beautifully blends in with the surrounding lush green skyline. The house has an organic form portraying the free-flowing spirit of nature.
Architect Eugene Pandala’s first project announced his values of environmental sustainability to the world and his belief in buildings being the extensions of the earth. The built spaces are non-pretentious and arranged with an intent to become a part of nature.
2. Banasura Hill Resort (Earth Resort)
Banasura Hill Resort, situated in a plot amid the mountains of the Western Ghats, proclaimed as one of the protected heritage sites by UNESCO, is the largest of its kind in Asia. With the site area extending up to 35 acres, it is the largest green Resort that reflects Eugene Pandala’s principles. The buildings constructed using rammed earth technology uses the mud excavated from the site during the construction.
Mud architecture was the most sustainable choice that has minimal ecological damage to the environment. The rammed earth construction contributes effectively to energy conservation: the thick earthen walls give warm protection, keeping the insides cool during the day and warm and comfortable during the evening, hindering the requirement for cooling. Additionally, the building seamlessly blends into the surrounding context and generates a sense of tranquillity.
3. Earth home of a Journalist | Eugene Pandala
This project is another humble adobe designed by Architect Eugene Pandala. This house is also one of the very few projects where brick and rubble masonry is used instead of mud construction. But, like all the other projects, the planning principles are in tandem with the surrounding environment. One can witness an excellent application of passive ventilation strategies in this project.
The spaces flow into each other seamlessly through a gradual transition in the language of the building elements. The connection of the built with the open spaces always adds glory to all the projects. The architecture style inspired by the vernacular architecture style of Kerala portrays the open nature of the project, with the house exposed to nature’s abundance.
4. Artists retreat built with earth & stone (Owiyum)
Located amidst the picturesque basin of Marayoor, Owiyum is an informal workspace for artists. The spaces built using the mud and stone dug out of the site attempt to keep the building footprint as small as possible, and a part of which is a swimming pool. The project ensures minimal environmental invasion and the skilful placement of spaces generates excellent vantage points of the surroundings for the users.
The landscaping encourages the animals to interact and not disturb the existing ecosystem, with plants being hosts to mesmerising butterflies and trees hosting chirping birds, adding a musical dimension to the space. The whole setting is truly a feast for the eye.
5. Film Academy (Revathy Kala Mandir) | Eugene Pandala
Revathy Kala Mandir is one of the splendid projects of Architect Eugene Pandala. The project is a film academy constructed entirely using mud. Along with being sustainable, the project is also Vastu shastra compliant. The building placement in the site allows channelling water from the nearby rainwater harvesting park, and the small pond adds charm to the site and its surroundings.
With the completion of this project, Architect Eugene Pandala proved that mud construction technology used in projects of any scale shall stand the test of time. The seamless blend of the buildings with nature is what makes architecture timeless.
- “Eugene Pandala – Centre for Sustainable Built and Natural Environment.” www.architectandinteriorsindia.com, 27 July 2017, https://www.architectandinteriorsindia.com/lists/2646-eugene-pandala. Accessed 4 July 2021.
- “Owiyum.” https://eugenepandala.com/, https://eugenepandala.com/institutional-projects/owiyum.html. Accessed 4 July 2021.