#53 – The Canaan – Ashams Ravi

Meet 27-year-old Architect, Ashams Ravi, from Thiruvananthapuram, who has taken construction in a new direction.

He understood quite well the impact that construction has on the environment. “With floods and landslides that Kerala faced in 2018, I was sure that my house should be consciously built without causing much damage to the environment,” says Ashams, who is a site architect at the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD).

So he turned to eco-friendly and recycled materials like beer bottles and bricks and doors sourced from sites where buildings were demolished. Using these materials, Ashams designed and got his house constructed over 4.5 months at Powdikonam, near Kazhakoottam.

The materials were mostly procured demolished houses in and around the city. This, perhaps, helped make the construction budget-friendly too! Plus, it helped the local tribes too who sold the bamboo needed for the building’s skeleton.

Today, ‘The Canaan’ as his house is known to be stands across 2,500 square feet of area on an inclined land. What’s more, the construction made use of the trees present on the land. The Canaan is built around the Grand Mahogany tree.

Source: The New Indian Express

The architecture marvel

Made on a foundation using dry rubble and the walls have been left unplastered to keep the home cooler. 

Beer bottles have been recycled to make lampshades around the house. There is an entire wall made from recycled beer bottles and plastered with mud and lime all adding to the character of the house.

The entrance is through a spacious sit-out. The living room connects to a prayer area with a gothic arching roof. An extensive dining space with an open kitchen and work-area is a continuation of the living room. The work-area doubles as a verandah. The ground floor also has two bedrooms with attached bathrooms.

As you take the stairs to reach the first floor, there is a window made using a horse wheel, sourced from during Pongal, a harvest festival, celebrated in Tamil Nadu.

The floors in the house comprise of terracotta tiles and black oxide. The hall on the top floor which has been constructed for family gatherings is made from cow dung which is layered over bamboo slabs and jute sacks soaked in very little cement. Windows and doors have been procured from demolished buildings. Even the handrails have been made using bike chains. 

Ashams also wanted to ensure the interiors remain cool during India’s hot summers. So, he laid out brick walls in the ‘Rat Trap bond’ model.

This is a technique where the bricks are arranged vertically, as opposed to horizontally while maintaining a hollow space within the wall. This technique not only involves lesser bricks but also reduces the cost of masonry by 30%.

But doing so, the bricks act as a thermal insulator, meaning the interiors stay cooler in the summers, while in the winter it is warmer. 

“Whenever we go about any activity, one must remember that only what is necessary should be taken from the environment. We must remember that mother earth is not something that is given to us by our ancestors but something that we have borrowed from our future generation,” says Ashams.

Source: The New Indian Express

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