Sustainable Living: Part of who we are – The Hegde House, Bangalore

While I study sustainable architecture and aspire to reduce the impact of the building industry, there are families who have chosen sustainability as a way of life.

Built in 2004, the house belongs to a wonderful classmate from my undergraduate programme. What a legacy to live up to.

The bricks used for building the house are made from soil available at the site and baked through a ‘solid mud block’ process. The bricks have been made by mixing soil and stone dust and then drying it naturally under the sun for a month, saving completely on energy required to burn the bricks and transport them. 

The walls are weight bearing and only 2 concrete pillars have been erected to support a long-span beam inside.

The roofs have been made partly out of cement concrete and partly out of terracotta sandwich tiles. Air is sandwiched between the two tiles and reduces heat radiation, keeping the home naturally cool.

The central part of the house and parts of the dining area has double height and a skylight. The ventilators around the skylight draw the air from inside the house, thus providing natural ventilation. This also keeps the temperature of the house cooler by three to four degrees.

Due to the relative cool temperature in the house, the need for air-conditioners has not been felt and use of fans is minimal, thus saving electricity. “We wanted our house to be cozy and that is what we kept in mind when we asked Chitra Vishwanath of Biome to design the house for us,” says Hegde.

To view the complete article, click here.


Biogas as an Alternate Fuel

waste to biogas



The possibility of using renewable energy as a long term solution for transportation.

The possibility of recycling municipal waste and obtaining energy.

The possibility of converting Methane into a useful gas product.

Biogas typically refers to a gas produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. It is a renewable energy source, like solar and wind energy. Furthermore, biogas can be produced from regionally available raw materials such as recycled waste and is environmentally friendly.It is produced by anaerobic digestion with anaerobic bacteria or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as manure, sewage, municipal waste, green waste, plant material, and crops.

Biogas is practically produced as landfill gas (LFG) or digested gas. A biogas plant is the name often given to an anaerobic digester that treats farm wastes or energy crops. These plants can be fed with energy crops such as maize silage or biodegradable wastes including sewage sludge and food waste.During the process, an air-tight tank transforms biomass waste into methane producing renewable energy.

Eunomia (2010) analysed a range of different uses for biogas and found that using  biogas to power vehicles had the lowest carbon footprint. When the carbon impacts  of treating one tonne of organic material were analysed, the following carbon savings  could be made:

• Using biogas as a vehicle fuel has a carbon saving of 97kgCO2 equivalent.

• Using biogas for on-site has a carbon saving of 86kgCO2 equivalent.

• Pumping biogas straight to the grid has a carbon saving of 85kgCO2 equivalent.

• Using biogas to produce electricity has a carbon saving of 62kgCO2 equivalent.

Several models are already in place using biogas and working efficiently and profitably. Sweden being a leader in this area of research and development.

The presentation aims at understanding the possibility of using biogas a a replacement for fuel in Public Transport.

Further links for reading include:

Case Study On Sangath, Ahmadabad

Sangath is a fragment of Doshi’s private dream: a microcosm of his intentions and obsessions. Inspired by the earth-hugging forms of the Indian vernacular, it also draws upon the vault suggestions of Le Corbusier. A warren of interiors derived from the traditional Indian city, it is also influenced by sources as diverse as Louis I. Kahn, Alvar Aalto and Antonio Gaudi. A work of art stands on its own merits and Sangath possesses that indefinable quality of authenticity. Even local labourers and passing peasants like to come and sit next to it, enjoying the low mounds of the vaults or the water-jars overgrown with creepers.”  [Rethinking Modernism for the Developing World: The Complete Architecture of Balkrishna Doshi]

While I could go on and on writing about how the dilemma of finding the entrance to Sangath is absolutely thrilling, or how the wilderness of unkempt garden is elusive and how the open studio and large storage on all walls is every architect’s dream, its more important to note the more silent aspects of the structure; the ecosystems breeding in this enchanting landscape (the xeriscaping), reflective mosaic tiles that continue their trail into hardscaping, the rainwater harvesting which is integrated into the design seamlessly, the vaulted roof and stack ventilation, all of which seem like design features and so many other aspects that make Sangath an interesting study in itself.

As a part of understanding structures suited to Hot and Arid Climate, the Case Study explores the various aspects of design that have made Sangath perform optimally.

[View a more comprehensive study]

sangath-ahmedabad-b-v-doshi-7 B.V. Doshi