Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mud house -1

This is the first part of a series of blogposts on an experiment in mud construction that was carried out in the village of Haripuram, near Visakhapatnam. The traditional coastal andhra village was typically a cluster of round mud houses. The houses were built close to each other in a circular formation so that the cyclonic winds that often hit the coast bounced off tangentially away from the cluster. Houses with two family units were often roofed and walled in rectangular form.

The old houses in Haripuram were more than thirty years old and they had mud walls and palmyra thatch roofs. However, the new constructions being built used reinforced cement concrete slabs and burnt brick walls. Initially, the possibility of constructing a two-storeyed mud house was discussed to bring back mud as a viable building material. For this, a manual block-making machine would have to be purchased. This required a higher budget for our first experiment. Also, the local masons would need to undergo special training. It was then decided that a single-storeyed mud and thatch house with a few of its drawbacks eliminated would perhaps be a better way to begin.

It was hoped that such a model house would evoke confidence in the people to learn to improvise on their ways of building. It would be clear that the new house which didnot have the disadvantages of the old houses had only incorporated a few simple changes, but was in all other respects like their earlier houses which they knew how to build anyway. I started to sketch the mud houses in the village.

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