Green Living

Style and substance, from waste

It is customary to see mounds of construction waste lying around demolished buildings, with debris spilling on to roads, blocking traffic. Many a time, empty sites are host to dumping of debris as disposal of this has become troublesome for private individuals. The recent decision of BBMP to collect construction debris for a fee and transport to the proposed recycling plants in three places — Kannur, Mallasandra and Anjanapura — is a welcome move.

Each of these plants is expected to handle 750 tonnes of debris per day where concrete waste, metal, plastic, and wood will be separated. Concrete will be crushed and washed to make cement kerbs, hollow bricks and manufactured sand. Plastic and wood will be sent for conversion from waste to energy while metal will be sold as scrap.

Interestingly, many architects with intense green ideologies have done their bit across the country to convert waste to usable construction material, some of it in the most innovative manner, while in others it was salvaging and using the material in the given form. The construction methodologies adopted by architect Yatin Pandya of Foot Prints E.A.R.T.H is a classic example where waste was used to provide low cost rural and urban housing.

The materials he used in construction include rubble from landfills, fly ash, discarded wooden crates, glass and plastic bottles, digital waste like monitors, keyboards, CDs, metal scrap, and broken tiles. He fills recycled bottles with fly ash and waste residue and uses them in the same manner as bricks for walls. His mould-compressed bricks are made from waste residue in landfill sites.

Pandya has also inlaid fly ash and waste residue moulded tiles with ceramic industry waste to create China mosaic. As for scrap metal, they have found their way to his gates as pieces of art rather than reused metal. His multi-purpose activity centre built in Ahmedabad catering to the surrounding large squatter settlement is a fine example of recycled municipal waste. Incidentally the building is also aesthetically pleasing.

Architect Gerard da Cunha of Architecture Autonomous, an intense propagator of green ideology, whose buildings speak this language in copious measure, is widely known for his penchant to salvage waste and use it effectively in his structures. Be it metal grills, doors, stone used for floors, or the China mosaic on roof tops, the language is one of salvaging waste, recycling.


The open amphitheatre of his school is an excellent case of waste being put to effective use. Here, da Cunha decided to build the protective walls of the amphitheatre using salvaged empty bottles “as the walls are on a cantilevered roof.” He added, “The students collected 25,000 empty bottles to build the wall.”

Architect Dean D’Cruz of Mozaic is an equally passionate green proponent, his designs and structures intensely incorporating the green ideology with the materials used in construction invariably salvaged from waste.

A walk through D’Cruz’s structures is bound to be greeted with an immense amount of salvaged and recycled materials, be it the doors, windows, old wooden columns, rafters on the ceiling, or metal railings.

The laterite stones used by D’Cruz in some of his projects are ones that were discarded as waste. In one of his projects, he took recycling to the extreme by using the handle bars of an old scooter as the tap for the washbasin.

In the same project, he opted for coconut wood which was used as rafters, walls and railings along with recycled door and windows. In another project involving five-star hospitality, he built a timber lodge using timber picked from the fallen trees in the site.

Speaking on use of construction waste, architect Leena Kumar of Kumar Consultants says, “Waste can be used in multiple ways in structure as well as interior, especially in a rustic ambience. Waste can be pieces of natural stone, waste wood, or discarded pieces of exquisitely designed glass. Even broken tiles make excellent flooring material and these insulate when used on terraces.”

Kumar has used waste in many interesting ways, such as discarded wooden crates for the main gates, compound walls, cabinet shutters made from waste wood, light fittings designed with discarded laminate samples, and shelves over work spaces in an office using recycled steel reinforcement rods.

Even discarded PVC pipes have been effectively used as exhaust vents in basements.

“These pipes connected to an exhaust fan and placed in vantage places, help suck out stale hot air and keep the place fresh and well ventilated”, says Kumar.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 7:45:13 AM |

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