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Standing tall against tsunami

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Keeping waves at bay: The ‘tsunami-proof’ house on the Poovar island in Thiruvananthapuram
Keeping waves at bay: The ‘tsunami-proof’ house on the Poovar island in Thiruvananthapuram

Special Correspondent

British national builds a ‘tsunami-resistant house,’ powered by solar energy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nestled between coconut trees on the Poovar island, the building looks quaint, yet it blends well with the surroundings. British national Mark Reynolds proudly claims that he has developed a ‘tsunami proof house,’ hydrodynamically shaped to offer protection from high waves.

The building was conceived as a solution to the housing needs in coastal areas. “Should it be hit by a tsunami wave, the laminar flow around it will protect the walls,” Mr. Reynolds explains.

The structure rests on a hollow masonry block that can hold 75,000 litres of water, enough to meet the water needs of a family for three months. The circular building is designed with battered walls, cantilever steps and a wooden superstructure with the walls jutting out.

The bedroom on the second floor is built over a bathroom. The four- poster bed is a structural member of the roof.

The materials used in the construction of the building are mostly local. Only the bamboo ply panels covering the sides were imported from Assam.

Mr. Reynolds claims that the tsunami house built at a cost of Rs.3 lakh, would be ideal for the coastal areas. The inherent strength and water storage facility make it a viable option, he contends. Gouri Parvathi Bayi, member of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, inaugurated the tsunami-resistant house at a function held at the Poovar Island on Tuesday. Kulathoor panchayat president Saraswathi Amma and Mrs.Sujeewa Reynolds were present.

The house is part of the Friday’s Place Eco Lodge and Homestay, a venture by Mark and Sujeewa Reynolds. The resort won the award for innovative technology at the World Travel Mart at London in November 2006.

While Mr.Reynolds designed and built the cottages with local masons and carpenters, his wife did the landscaping. The premises abound in palm trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

The island has no drinking water facility. Fridays Place depends almost entirely on solar energy. A bank of eight solar panels powers the lights, water pumps and most of the kitchen equipment.

Mr. Reynolds stresses the need to make Poovar island a wetland reserve and check unsustainable local development.

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