How a Bangalore family changed itself to fit its eco-friendly house
It was power tools dealer Chockalingam Muthiah’s dream to build a house without too much of damage to the environment. And his commitment led him to construct one using mainly recycled materials.
The four-bedroom house has a courtyard, dining hall, kitchen, terrace, and also a kitchen garden. Once the idea was conceived, two years were spent on research and it took another two-and-a-half to construct the 3,500-sq ft. two-storey house at Hulimavu, off Bannerghatta Road.
Once his family fell in with the idea, Mr. Muthiah said, “We all met at our site and began to visualise something based on our own feelings and needs. So we found a home that reflected our soul, our personality, our needs, and it makes us feel good.”
The family tried to reduce the use of steel and cement in the construction work to minimise ecological impact. As Mr. Muthiah pointed out, “Construction [activity] causes a third of the carbon emissions in the world.”
To counter this, mud bricks were used instead of firebricks. “Our methods changed, so the design also had to change.”
Explaining that the courtyard controls the microclimate of the house, he said the house was designed around the courtyard.
His wife, Annapoorani, is candid enough to confess that initially she had some reservations about the radical idea. “But I decided to support my husband’s dream.”
Each part of the house has a story behind it. The doors, windows and pillars once belonged to other structures. And the door leading to the balcony is an old Maruti 800 car door! “Everybody was so involved in the construction. My elder son spotted the car door at a garage and insisted that we use it. And we did.”
The house mainly runs on solar power and has a rainwater harvesting unit. The compost pit in kitchen garden generates the biofertilizer which is used to grow fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, bitter gourd, lemon grass, brinjal, guava, gooseberry and pomegranate.
So was it cheaper to build this house compared to conventional RCC structures? Actually no. “No, the cost was the same. Although the material was cheap, the labour was very expensive and we had to hire some masons from Kerala. The total cost came to around Rs. 35 lakh eight years ago.”
His uniquely aesthetic home, popularly referred to as the “mud house”, is now a place of attraction for friends, family and neighbours, including schoolchildren, who troop in and in regularly. And the Muthiahs don’t complain. “In fact, I enjoy showing around the house, explaining each part in detail. We have had strangers and group of schoolchildren knocking at our door,” said the Gandhi fan.
Mr. Muthiah can be contacted on email@example.com