Maggie’s house in Pillaichavady

An eco-friendly approach

This residential building is the result of extensive research and experimentation in three main areas; eco-friendly building materials and technology alternatives to the current building trends, energy efficiency and climate responsive building language. Further the quest was aimed at replicability in urban as well as rural areas. This exploration led beyond the building itself to include also eco-friendly infrastructure in the management of water, waste and energy aspects.

Linear in plan, the house is oriented to the south-east for optimum air circulation. The house is orhanised within a single rectangular block with the various activities arranged in a row & a  long vaulted space contained perpendicularly within the brick masonry. They are placed such that each activity can spill over on the north east side in the form of the large verandah that runs along the entire lenght of the house.This way the design of the house ensures that the activities are cocooned into private secure spaces, while the spill over in the living areas are large and open to the nature. The house is simple with clearly defined lines and masses, yet the play in the volumes is such that it becomes hard to distinguish where the inside ends and outside begins.

The exposed brick facades are scaled down due to the use of local ancient brick proportions, 18cm x 10cm x 2.5 cms. The use of these achakal bricks are revived and are set in lime mortar with raked joints. 10% of cement addition in the lime mortar allowed for initial setting strength. The walls are of 30, 20 or 10 cm thickness with specially designed bonds as they don’t follow the 1:2 proportion.

Catenary vaults using hollow clay tubes have been used for climatic insulation as well as to reduce the unnecessary use of steel in pucca roofs.. The flat terraced roof has been built using hollow burnt clay trapezoidal extruded modules over part pre-cast beams as in a jack arch, that were specially manufactured onsite for the purpose of finding insulated roofing solutions to flat roofs as well as providing employment for the local artisans.

The thus reduced energy demands of the whole house are further reduced by solar , solar water heater as well as solar pump for water pumping.