Ask yourself this question before you decide what goes into your home, says architect Karun Kumbera. Lakshmi Krupa listens in

In town to oversee work at Avigna Celeste, behind Mahindra World City, architect Karun Kumbera who is at the helm of Karun Kumbera Architects & Urbanists, Bangalore, spoke about his vision for the unique space as a sustainable project.

Creating a project with over a thousand units besides a school is a challenge in these tough times. But Karun’s ambitious work hopes to go a step further to incorporate some interesting features which will kickstart a healthy trend.

Celeste is a township that will house villas, apartments, a school (Maharishi Vidya Mandir), commercial space, service apartments, etc.

The project features villas that are placed next to each other, and yet offer immense privacy. “And they all had to be aligned to Vaastu. Something on this scale is very challenging and fulfilling!” Karun says.

Located on the shadows of the hills, the site already enjoys a lot of breeze. But Karun’s design will help keep the winds cool almost always. “We are creating a funnel effect, wherein through the structures we will cut the wind, which will in turn make them cooler. We are not saying you won’t need an AC at all. But the load on your ACs will be much lesser,” he explains. Between villas, at the proposed club house and many other parts… the funnel effect is a leitmotif at this project.

Another very interesting feature is the play of shadows from the hills around the project. “One of the buildings of the project is located on the spot where the hills’ shadows fall, and then that building’s shadow falls on the next and so on… creating a cascade of shadows!” Kumbera says.

The site where Celeste is being constructed had close to 14 wells of which nine were saved by the architect and rainwater will be harvested at these spots. “We decided to retain them because, when such large development takes place in a space, we tend to forget what it once used to be. We want some IT professional who will make this space his home to understand that there once stood many wells here,” says Kumbera who is passionate about responsible building.

From solar power to a highly effective sewage treatment (called DEWATS) which will pump the water used by those living there back to the earth after cleaning it up, the project includes several earth-friendly features.

“We have worked on sensible, sensitive features that are suited to our climate. For instance, there are long windows that will ensure sunlight seeps into every villa so you can save on lighting. We are sourcing ferrocement from Auroville for the project to create the funnel effect,” explains Kumbera.

Quiz Kumbera on the future of sustainable projects and pat comes the answer, “We need to move away from water-based architecture. Whether the style is vernacular or contemporary, it remains that we are still drawing water from our rivers; we are still taking sand from the earth for construction. There is a need for a change in focus. I have built my own home to reflect these principles.” Kumbera takes out his tablet and shows a few picture of his home - an Indian home with a European sensibility. It's clear that while it may take a while for the rest of us to get there, Kumbera is already practising what he preaches. With this new project, he hopes to give his vision a life of its own. On a much larger scale.