The Hunnarshala Foundation is an Indian non-government organization (NGO) that engages in community empowerment, artisan training, and the development of traditional building systems, distinctly utilizing earth. Succeeding the 2001 earthquake in Kutch, India, associations were built in an effort to enable people to reconstruct their habitat. Hence the genesis of the Hunnarshala foundation. This NGO collaborates with a network of artisans to merge innovation with traditional techniques resulting in resilient and eco-friendly buildings taking into account the local vernacular. Moreover, the foundation empowers and trains artisan entrepreneurs, leading the way towards the mainstream of construction and community-led planning and reconstruction.
Elevating Vernacular architecture
One way the firm is practicing sustainable architecture is through the continual finding of hybrid solutions and upraising of vernacular architecture with innovation. Hunarashala foundation bases its approach on a community-driven process. In Kutch, for instance, the foundation met with local builders, artisans, and citizens, to formulate reconstruction methods that build on local knowledge and the assumption that homeowners were able to update and replicate structures for higher resilience. This approach led to the revival of the bhunga which is a traditional dwelling whose rounded shape makes it naturally more quake-resistant than a concrete building. In that same vein, the firm collaborated with artisans to reinforce the bhunga’s rammed-earth construction by adding steel rings at numerous levels.
Amongst the organization’s chief purposes is the promotion of cost‐effective and eco‐friendly building materials and infrastructure that make use of locally appropriate aesthetics and inputs. The firm’s experiments have led to the utilization of industrial waste, namely, adding levigated (washed) clay in rammed-earth construction and attaching thin strips of waste wood from shipwrecks to produce doors, window frames, and structural flooring. By and large, all new techniques and materials are tested copiously in Hunnarshala foundation’s lab located in Bhuj. Additionally, the foundation works with local governments to establish technical guidelines to be added to regional manuals for new construction.
Eco-Friendly Homes to reconstruct dwellings Post-Disasters
Hunnarshala foundation’s stately work on disaster rehabilitation in India, Indonesia, Iran, and Afghanistan is another case in point of the firm’s holistic approach to redevelopment and sustainability. Hunnarshala worked with the city government on various social housing and relocation projects, including a master plan for the culturally sensitive, sustainable relocation of 500 displaced families. Furthermore, the organization has trained inhabitants to sustain the solar panels that power the water pumps in the biofilter plant. Most of the post-disaster houses use stabilized earth construction techniques, rammed earth, and compressed stabilized earth blocks. Besides, eco-friendly houses are built with non-polluting natural materials.
Hunnarshala Foundation maintains that it is crucial to shine a light on technologies and materials that are not very energy-consuming along with recycling waste. In this regard, the organization has deployed conscious efforts to utilize materials such as waste wood in structural areas. The Hunnarshala campus itself is an example of how the firm is practicing sustainable architecture. A waste product generated in china clay factories is used as an additive to the earth mixture. Moreover, a Balinese thatching technique inspired by the foundation’s work in Indonesia is incorporated into the roof.
Rice husk was used for thatching. The firm has also experimented with other earth technologies and roofing techniques in the construction process of the campus. Various master artisans and architects who have worked with Hunnarshala during the last decade have contributed to the design and construction of the campus building. Orchestrated by Kiran Waghela, the building captures the diversity and spontaneity of an Indian bazaar. In such a manner, the campus explores earth, wood, stone, and assorted interpretations of solar passive and climate-aware architecture.
Khamir Craft Facility
Hunnarshala Foundation encourages other architects to use their technologies and collaborate with artisans. The Khamir Craft Facility is one example where the firm’s artisans worked with the architect Neelkanth Chhaya, former Dean at CEPT, Ahmedabad. What makes the Khamir Craft Facility an exemplary building of how Hunnarshala Foundation practices sustainable architecture is an important innovation on the walls of the first floor which were made with Wattle & Daub panels plastered with lime. On the ground floor, all the construction is rammed earth.
In the construction sector, green architecture and sustainable housing are steadily gaining prominence. Although it is still in an embryonic stage, many architects, planners, designers, and organizations in India are opening the way for more innovations in sustainable architecture. Hunnarshala Foundation is one of the pioneers whose unprecedented sustainable practices demonstrate a greater model of design, which can be applied and adapted to several scales. Accordingly, the buildings designed should be both utilitarian and transparent by implementing the concept of sustainability. By the same token, the practice should incorporate the communities involved in the making and cherish the voiceless creatures – Environment and Biodiversity.
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