This mud brick house in Tamil Nadu challenges traditional notions of construction

A view of the mud brick house built by A. Jegatheesan in Annamangalam village, Perambalur district.

A view of the mud brick house built by A. Jegatheesan in Annamangalam village, Perambalur district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A civil engineer in Veppanthattai, Perambalur district has built a house in his native village of Annamangalam that seeks to challenge the notion that cement is essential to construction, by creating unfired bricks made of red soil, that are also sealed with mortar made of the same material.

“It has taken me three years to complete this house, which I have named ‘Thaimann Veedu’ because the soil taken from a 30-metre radius from here has been a major component of the construction. I wouldn’t call it cheap — I spent at least ₹17 lakh on the 1100 sq. ft. house — but I wanted it to make a statement in sustainable architecture,” A. Jegatheesan, the brain behind the project, told The Hindu.

To create the unfired bricks, Mr. Jegatheesan, 30, underwent training in a private institute in Puducherry, learning how to make Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) and Arch Vault Dome (AVD). “The greatest myth about unfired bricks is that they will dissolve when they come into contact with water. In reality, they are made with a mixture of red soil and a nominal amount of cement, and after being stamped out mechanically, are cured for at least three weeks alternately in the shade and in direct sunlight before they are utilised in construction. Three years later, there is not even a crack in the walls of my house,” said Mr. Jegatheesan, who shifted into the residence with his family three months ago. “The other advantage is that unfired bricks curtail the need for precious firewood to fuel the kilns,” he added.

The vaulted and arched roofs are made with at least 10,000 unfired bricks, to minimise the usage of metal and cement-based moulding. “I have set up a tank of 20,000 litres capacity for rainwater harvesting, and a terrace garden. In the master bedroom, I have made a platform with ferrocement (a construction material consisting of wire meshes and cement mortar), and placed a mattress on it, to do away with wooden furniture,” he said.

Other innovations include repurposing of door and window frames from demolished houses, and recasting bicycle chain sprockets as metal grills. “It has not been an easy journey, but my home has become an attraction in the vicinity. I hope more people will take up such eco-friendly ways of construction,” said Mr. Jegatheesan.  

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 10:20:26 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/mud-brick-house-stands-out-in-a-concrete-jungle/article65545080.ece