Architect Ravindra Kumar has built close to 20 timber structures, all of which are unique in their design and concept but common in their beauty and green sensibilities, says Nandhini Sundar

Dip back into the past when construction methodologies were totally simple, the structures erected with mud, stones and of course, timber. The interiors, not surprisingly, were cool during hot summer months and fairly warm during the winter. For, the timber used served as an excellent insulation, altering the ambient temperature in the interiors.

Cut to the present and what you see now is plenty of concrete, glass and steel, each scaling to heights that are at times difficult to sight unless the neck is strained northwards. Add to this is the loss of charm that timber brings with it, a sense of green, oneness with nature. And then you long for the past; wonder if such picturesque residences are indeed possible in the current scenario.

If the timber residences built by Architect Ravindra Kumar of Pragrup are seen, it becomes obvious that not only such quaint, charming houses are possible, but if you are willing to be adventurous you could have yours up on a tree too. For, Ravindra has built close to 20 timber structures, all of which are unique in their design and concept but common in their beauty and green sensibilities.

Believing in the concept of “grow your own house,” Ravindra started building structures that used plantation and engineered timber so as to “leave the least footprint on the planet.” Here, the structures are totally in wood, be it floors, walls or the roof, exuding warmth and comfort.

In one of his residence projects which is a tree house, Ravindra has erected the structure using arecanut barks and recycled steel salvaged from railway tracks. “The arecanut barks are extremely strong and they last over 100 years,” he says. The tree house is propped up by using two slanting supports of the trunk of a two-decade-old rain tree.

While this residence is perched on a tree, Ravindra has erected one totally in wood but very much ground based. Here, not only the walls, every item — staircase, windows, doors, skylights, furniture — reflect one material and that is timber. “The objective is to ensure that if the house is pulled down, the materials going into it will merge into the ground, being bio-degradable,” says Ravindra. The roof is done with terracotta tiles to complement the bio-charm of the structure.

In yet another, he has created a residence using extensive amount of wood to create a space that has a spatial expression, the rooms emerging only when the partitions are slid into place. A thatched roof here is structured as an inverted pyramid where it descends inwards into the courtyard.

While the walls here are built with stone, the green quotient is brought out by the extensive use of re-engineered wood and recycled timber in the interiors, enabling the residence to rest in harmony with its green exteriors. The arecanut barks cladding the exterior walls further enhance this green feel.

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