SUKHAWATI HOUSE, Auroville.
DESIGN BRIEF: This house had to be integrated within an existing low density residential development and hence had to maintain a small
footprint. The project was commissioned by a young couple who recently moved from France to Auroville to pursue a life of spiritual ideals. They always lived simply and
wanted to keep it that way, in addition to developing their artistic interests. A studio was planned in proximity to the main living space, almost as part of it.
CONSTRAINTS WORKED WITH: The prime constraint was to maintain a steady comfort throughout the year, facing various challenges of the hot humid climate of coastal Tamil Nadu while having as an equal priority the need for close contact with the surrounding natural environment.
KEY FEATURES: The building was oriented with its long side facing the direction of cool summer winds (18 degrees East of South). The living areas and Studio on the ground floor were designed as an open plan, and the private spaces located on the first floor. The bathroom was tucked in adjoining the staircase and is open to an enclosed garden.
Large openings were designed with sliding louvered screens that turn the house inside out when opened . The architectural vocabulary maintains a minimalism towards spaces, elements and materials used.
A sustainable, low-impact development was aimed at and achieved, some aspects are:
• 100% solar energy powered, • 100% waste water recycling • The structural system of the building was designed to reduce the use of concrete, • The accessible roof terraces will be planted as roof gardens, and the the top terrace (accommodating the solar panels) has a highly reflective floor surface, thus all of the roof surfaces are rendered ‘cool roofs’
• Salvaged timber was used for all the woodwork, • An improved technique of traditional lime plaster was used for external as well as internal wall surfaces thus nullifying the use of both cement and paint.
FINISHING TECHNIQUES:Lime plaster for external & internal wall surfaces: Lime plaster is an ancient building technique: the oldest known work is dated around
7500BC. In India, lime plaster has been traditionally used for centuries, with local variation in ingredients and methods. Lime is more durable than cement, while less strong which makes it ideal
for use in plasters, mortars and renders. Using lime plaster is beneficial to environment and occupants. Environmental benefits of lime in comparison with cement:
• Lime has a lower embodied energy than cement.
• Lime can be recycled, as the chemical process is cyclical.
• Lime is biodegradable.
• Lime is soft and flexible, it allows the building to shift slightly without cracking and is ‘self-healing’
• Lime plaster is breathable and can be used with natural materials such as earth bricks that absorb humidity and allow moisture to
pass so the wall doesn’t become damp.
• Lime is very long lasting; it keeps hardening over many years and can last centuries.
• Lime is highly alkaline which prevents fungus and bacteria from growing.
• Lime does not need water for curing, which results in saving a lot of water during construction.
Construction Time 9 months Total built up area 105 m² Year of Completion 2014