Brick By Brick

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Why Housing?

A housing problem is an everything problem.

The path to Ecologically, Socially and Economically sustainable homes
Recycled, Re-used and Re-purposed materials
Conservation of buildings
Bring back local craftsmanship

“Sustainability is not a formula—what works in Europe might not work here,” he says. “Like a doctor, you have to understand the patient, the symptoms, the conditions—before you arrive at the cure.“
- Yatin Pandya

A case for Vernacular Materials

An estimated 70% of the world’s population now lives in structures made at least partly out of concrete. If you’ve ever walked barefoot across a sunbaked parking lot, you know firsthand how concrete soaks up and retains the sun’s heat. When temperatures rise, the countless miles of concrete streets, sidewalks, walls and roofs in cities magnify that effect, creating a phenomenon known as urban heat islands.


The same applies to the wave of homes being built across the country. Solid concrete absorbed heat throughout the day and radiated it inside at night. As a more standardized international approach to building design emerges, many Indian architects (and contractors) abandon the vernacular traditions that had been developed over thousands of years to cope with the weather extremes of different regions. The earthen walls and shady verandas of the humid south, and the thick insulating walls and intricate window shades of the hot dry northwest, were swapped for a boxy modern style. Today, buildings in downtown Bangalore often look like those in Ahmedabad, in the north, or Chennai, in the east—or those in Cincinnati, Ohio, or Manchester, England.
Concrete has been essential for the progress of our society. A building does not achieve sustainability by omitting and ignoring its gifts. For example, using concrete for foundations improves the lifespan of a building because the characteristics and strengths of the material are aligned with the performance of the building component.
Wider adoption of climate-sensitive architecture can greatly reduce the energy needed for cooling buildings, which is important for India as the percentage of households with air conditioning is expected to increase from 8% to 40% by 2038. The increasing use of air conditioning is not just a luxury but a necessity due to India's changing climate. However, this increase in use will also result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions unless cleaner cooling technologies are developed and implemented quickly.
Vernacular architecture typically uses locally-sourced, natural materials such as earth or timber, thus requiring less energy to produce and transport than modern materials like concrete and steel. This can result in a lower environmental impact. A 2020 found that the energy required to produce vernacular materials was significantly lower than that required for modern materials.

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