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Space is no constraint

sangeetha unnithan
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Want to go green? No matter how small your house is, a few tweaks can change the way you live

As the waste-management crisis in cities aggravate, source-level treatment of waste has become inevitable. Although most urbanites may want to go for it, many complain of lack of space in erecting systems to get it done.

But that may not be a problem, as a house at Edapazhanji in Thiruvananthapuram has shown. It dispels as myth the refrain that waste treatment at source is impossible in compact living spaces.

“Krishna Mangalam” of G.S. Rajesh is a house with a difference. It is built on just two cents of land, but eight members of four generations of a family live in it comfortably.

What makes it different is the fact that despite the paucity of space, the house includes features for energy conservation and waste reduction, including a biogas plant and a rainwater harvesting system. And those are just some of the “green building” features incorporated in this cost-effective Baker-model house designed by Costford, a voluntary organisation which provides technological assistance for rural development.

“When we decided to build a house, we wanted it to be home for our larger family and also wanted it to have some energy-efficiency features. When we approached Costford with these requirements on just two cents of land, they said it was possible. And here we are,” said Mr. Rajesh, who works at Technopark. The 1,350-sq.ft house has five bedrooms in two “apartments” built over three floors.

The 578-sq.ft ground floor includes a living room, an open kitchen, two bedrooms, and a common bathroom. Outside is space for a sit-out and a scooter shed.

Floor plan

The first and second floors together form the second “two-storey” apartment. While the plan of the first floor is a replica of the ground floor, the second floor has been made in a “mezzanine-like” design with an attached bedroom, a utility area, and an open terrace. If you are thinking how a biogas plant fits into this design, think again.

The biogas plant, with a capacity of 1 cubic metre, has been installed right under the ground-floor bedroom. The rainwater running down the sloping roof is collected using a system of pipes that run down to a collection tank under the open sit-out.

“All kitchen waste is dumped into the biogas plant inlet and the gas is utilised in the first-floor kitchen. We are able to bring down the consumption of LPG to a considerable extent because of biogas,” Mr. Rajesh says. Every corner has been used cleverly to incorporate maximum utility features. So you have wooden cupboards under the seating slabs and an ironing platform and a washing area on the open terrace.

As ample scope has been provided for cross ventilation with wide windows, balconies, air holes and ventilators, the interiors and exteriors blend together effortlessly.

Illusion of space

This has helped in providing an illusion of space bringing in maximum sunlight and fresh air . “This house was constructed after bringing down an old tiled house. We have utilised the materials recovered from the old house, such as wood and roof tiles, for various design features in this house. The recycled tiles have been used as filler slabs on the roof, while the used wood has been reused for cupboards and doors,” says P.B. Sajan, architect and joint director of Costford. Apart from tiles, earthen pots and even coconut shells have been used as roofing fillers, sprucing up the aesthetics .

Use of rat-trap bond for walls for heat reduction, terracotta flooring, exposed brick walls, rabble masonry for foundation, and use of rock powder instead of sand are some other cost-effective, energy-saving features.

sangeetha unnithan


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