How to design-build an eco-friendly and low-cost urban mud house in Delhi NCR, India?

Is it easy to design and build an eco-friendly and low-cost mud house in a city like Delhi? And that too for less than Rs 17 lacs? Veena Lal, who runs a charitable society for destitute children by the name…

How to design-build an eco-friendly and low-cost urban mud house in Delhi NCR, India?

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Is it easy to design and build an eco-friendly and low-cost mud house in a city like Delhi? And that too for less than Rs 17 lacs? Veena Lal, who runs a charitable society for destitute children by the name of Karm Marg, has made it possible. Her organization, organic farm, and mud house are located in sector 84, Faridabad in Delhi NCR region.

This video is about Veena Lal’s house built within her organic farm. She is a firm believer in sustainable architecture and designing habitats for optimum use. She has applied the same for her own house and went ahead with the decision to build with mud. After years of research, travel, and a global pandemic, the house was finally complete in 2021. It is built from 70% sun-dried mud bricks (adobe bricks) and 30% fired bricks, cement, and stone.

Ar. Amol Mankeekar was appointed for designing and executing the project. Amol, a 30-yr old young architect, has been specializing in mud structures and was associated with the late Didi Contractor (Delia Narayan Kinzinger) who specialized in natural buildings and had received the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2019.

Amol designed the house in a ‘plus’ shape to open each space to at least 2-3 open sides and allow maximum ventilation in the house. The house was supposed to be built completely in mud but due to maintenance issues, one leg (comprising all the utility spaces such as toilets, staircase, bathroom and wash area) was built in fired bricks and cement. The whole house is designed to keep water consumption and water flow in mind. Hence, all the water is channeled naturally towards 2 sets of banana trees that soak up the water and its nutrients. Even the toilet is a dry toilet without any flush or sewage system. The human waste is treated to prepare compost which is then used on the organic farm. Air conditioning is not required as the house is well ventilated and maintains the temperature inside the house. This is also because of the thick mud walls and mud floors that insulate the house well too. The backside faces the north and is used in summers, while the front side faces the south and is thus used in winters. There are various other features in the house design that have been incorporated according to Veena Lal’s preferences.

According to Didi Contractor, “The house should be like a set, where life can take place. It should blend as much as possible. It shouldn’t stand out. The house shouldn’t be an identity in itself. It should just provide a space for that person’s life to happen.”
Also, for her sustainability meant, “you do whatever is possible from your side and then a little more. There is no 1 end goal. There is always a spectrum.”

0:00 – Introduction
1:06 – Context Delhi NCR
1:26 – Work and Home
2:15 – Initial Challenges and Solution
3:02 – The architect, design, and construction
4:34 – Design process and priorities
5:09 – House tour
8:45 – Other features
9:41 – Budget
10:52 – A home for everyone
11:22 – Learnings from Didi Contractor
12:03 – 1st day after moving

Down to Earth is Science and Environment fortnightly published by the Society for Environmental Communication, New Delhi. We publish news and analysis on issues that deal with sustainable development, which we scan through the eyes of science and environment.

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