Homes That Build Lives
I asked Chitra K. Vishwanath, one of the
founders of this design firm about their work with sustainable architecture and
she begins with a surprising sentiment. “We need to build less,” says Chitra. In
her initial conversations with clients, she tries to ascertain how much
build-up space they really need. In
Influenced by the work of Laurie Baker, Chitra Vishwanath and her colleagues ensure that the space allows all living things to exist in harmony with nature and they try to leave the area in better shape than they found it. Many of their projects use plastic and local waste in the first layer of the foundation and they leave no construction debris behind. I remember the chaos that visits my home and street when the neighbours indulge in some reconstruction and wish they had used the services of architects like these.
“We need to bring gardens inside,” she says. “Have plants, have pets. Live with nature. Unfortunately, inward-looking homes are becoming the norm,” she says. She is quick to add wryly that it is rare to find much of a view. “Of late, I find it hard to even kill cockroaches,” she says, speaking from a lived philosophy that values all living beings – insects, critters, small and large animals and plants. She says she only makes an exception with mosquitoes. “I think perhaps they are truly worth eradicating,” she says, half-joking. I am quick to add humans to that list and she doesn’t disagree.
She wishes there were more open spaces for families and communities to come together. She even talks of a recent commercial project that has natural light and ventilation, making the factory a more pleasant space. She mentions that the construction industry is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and can contribute up to 50% of the carbon dioxide emissions in some countries.
(Next week, we continue this series of sustainable architecture, and tips on reducing the environmental impact of your home.)