A home in India models sustainability and looks the part of a royal residence.
The 4,000-square-foot house was “a dream come true” for Amritha and Harshit, The Better India reported a year ago. It took just four months to be built, and it faces the Indian Ocean.
“Sustainability has been a part of my personal life as well, not just my professional,” Amritha, a real estate professional, told the outlet. “I was taught to care for nature right from childhood. Sundays were spent cleaning the beach, as we lived a few minutes away from the sea. I always knew my dream home needed to reflect the values that I was brought up with.”
The home features an open floor plan, a modern look, and golden, reddish-brown hues. Ammaar Aziz Chowdry of ED+ Architecture designed it around a 40-year-old tree planted by Amritha’s grandfather, The Better India reported. The couple, who have four dogs, wanted to use minimal cement and concrete for a climate-friendly structure with near-net-zero pollution.
Cement makes up just 10-15% of concrete’s mass, but it accounts for up to 90% of its polluting gases, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the construction industry plus the use of its built environment contributes 39% of global pollution, per a 2021 study.
“Every nook and corner has been designed with a sustainable angle while bearing in mind the home’s proximity to the ocean,” Chowdry said.
The windows and shutters, polished kota and terrazzo (made of marble scraps and recycled glass chips) flooring, and concrete-covered terracotta were designed to minimize the impacts of heat and salty ocean air. The walls — 350 millimeters, or almost 14 inches, thick — are made of porotherm sandwiched by half-cut bricks to form double insulation that helps trap heat.
Porotherm, a fire-resistant clay block, is one of many alternatives to concrete that are friendlier to the environment. Recent innovations have led to options such as Ferrock and “green concrete” that have some saying it “feels like we’re on the cusp of a second industrial revolution.”
But porotherm is a material that has actually been around for decades. Its lifespan is 150 years, and the material is recyclable, according to Wienerberger, the world’s largest manufacturer of clay blocks, bricks, and clay roof tiles. It can help reduce overheating as well as prevent heat loss, and its breathability can aid in the regulation of humidity.
Constructing with porotherm is so quick because the blocks are lightweight, and the process doesn’t require much water — 72 liters instead of 1,060 for a typical building of 2,282 square feet, Wienerberger stated.
Amritha and Harshit’s house is located on the southeastern coast of India, in the Thiruvanmiyur neighborhood of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It cost 3,800 rupees, or about $45, per square foot, The Better India reported. That’s $182,864.
It’s an affordable tribute to sustainable construction and a gorgeous, classic one at that.
“In the olden times, people would sit on their balconies and watch the gullies below,” Chowdry said. “We wanted to recreate this concept. At the center of the home is a triple-volume space known as the great room, from where the windows open out into the gullies and streets of Chennai.”
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