Creating cosy home in a container

Innovative dwelling:(From top left): An outside view of the container house; stairs that lead to the terrace; the proud owner Krupa Jhaveri, art therapist, in her kitchen and a view of a room with windows.— Photos: S.S. Kumar  

The experimental township of Auroville’s laboured progress in bridging its housing gap has seen its human capital serve up quite a few innovations, from demountable architecture to tree houses and offbeat eco-friendly designs.

Art therapist Krupa Jhaveri, who runs Sankalpa, an art therapy and creative empowerment centre in Auroville, has retrofitted a humongous cargo container she came across in the docks of the Chennai Port Trust a couple of years ago into a cosy home.

In fact, when Jhaveri left behind the chaotic bustle of New York life to settle down in sylvan Auroville, one of her immediate challenges was finding housing in Auroville.

This graduate from the School of Visual Arts in the U.S., along with a friend, decided to buy and transport three containers which they would upgrade into a stationary trailer home. After field surveys, it was decided to dock the containers on the expanse of wilderness behind the Tibetan Pavilion and near Solitude Farm.

“Doubling up as caretaker of the vast tract of land which borders the Kottakarai village made it easier to get the proposal approved by the decision-making body here,” says Jhaveri.

However, after the containers arrived, her friend lost interest in the idea and moved into another home, but Jhaveri stuck to her Plan A.

Everything had to be set up from scratch as the area was completely barren, from digging a well to setting up pillars to serve as a raised platform to hold the container-home.

Anyone who had seen this home at that early stage would roll their eyes in disbelief if they pay her a visit now.

Jhaveri’s home now has a kitchen, work area, a lounge and a bedroom. And there is electricity, water supply and a proper sewerage system . The onduline roofing sheet with a thick layer of recycled jute insulates from the heat.

“What is a home without a terrace,” she must have thought.

The next home improvement was to carve a foldable cantilever frame from the roof and fix up a spiral stairway that leads on to a terrace.

At night, the frame is pulled shut. And, if it is monsoon time, the sloping roof redirects water from the windows.

Being an artist herself, Jhaveri seems to have enjoyed doing up her home, bringing little creative touches to provide an ethnic feel to the decor — from wall art to arty knick-knacks.

She also proposes to convert the open space beneath her flooring constructively, possibly storage for books and other stuff.

Jhaveri ended up shelling out around Rs. 10 lakh but a good part of that expenditure was a concomitant of being a trailblazer — she is sure that anyone following her trail could replicate a container-home on a much lower budget.

She has had friends come over for bonfire parties, but what she really misses is having a neighbour. She hopes that sooner or later someone else would also be inspired to do up the pair of cargo containers lying idle a few yards from her home.

And, has she named her home yet? “Not really, but some of my friends like calling it the Blue Sky Ranch.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:41:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/creating-cosy-home-in-a-container/article7020234.ece

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