An Eco-friendly Farmhouse

Ranjeet Mukherjee

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Vrindavan Farms is a quiet family retreat because of its harmony with nature and sustainable quotient.  

The house in the Vrindavan Farms of the Bhatia family is earthy in its characteristics and elegant in its appeal. The client had transformed a barren land, spread over 11 acres, into a green haven rich in trees and biodiversity. An avid ecologist, into eco-friendly waste management initiatives at his Marine Drive neighbourhood in Mumbai, the client was keen on introducing sustainability.

“Be it the material, construction method or embodied energy, he wanted everything to be as green as possible. So we de-mechanised the processes and adopted ecological solutions,” says Ranjeet Mukherjee, the architect.

Earth, local timber, local workforce and recycled joinery has been used, not only cutting down on the cost but on the carbon footprint as well. Natural lighting and ventilation has brought down energy needs substantially.

The brick vault on the roof spans the length of the building, over the living area and the bedrooms. As the partition walls are only up to lintel level, and the vault runs in continuum, it provides natural ventilation and illumination to the rooms.

Where flat slab was necessary, as over the patios, concrete consumption has been minimised by opting for slab fillers. The rows of locally available inverted terracotta pots inserted in the slab have produced a waffle-like appearance. The striking gazebo is self-supporting and is a reinvention of the traditional sloping, Mangalore-tiled roofs of the region.

A stone-lined tank that doubles as a swimming pool has been fashioned out of the depression formed while excavating earth for the construction of the house.

The walls and the foundations have been made of rammed earth. The strip foundation is capped by a concrete plinth beam to make it earthquake resistant. A water channel runs along the external face of the plinth beam. It provides cooling and serves as a moat. Chains running down from the corners of the building channel rain water into the moats.

The wooden columns, doors and windows have been created from recycled wood sourced from demolished Chettinad houses in Tamil Nadu. Locally quarried stones in varied finishes have been used for the floors and platforms.