When Kurian Philip decided to build his dream home, he was keen on one thing: the home must blend in with the environment and be apt for the climatic conditions of the place. Philip, a native of Thazhakkara in Mavelikkara, had inquired about certain aspects of constructing a house. It was then, that he had become aware of (CSEB) Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks. At once, he decided to design and build his new home using CSEB.
The highlight of the house is the ‘vault’ which begins from the wall of the car porch and spreads like an umbrella enveloping the entire house. What is more interesting is that this 16.5 meter long vault is constructed exclusively by the earth block without using concrete or steel bars. More than 9,000 earth blocks were used to build this spectacular vault. As the vault is built on the south-west part of the house, it provides ample shade by resisting direct sunlight and heat. As mentioned earlier, the car porch comes under this vault.
At the entrance of the house, you can see sinusoidal walls with a wavelike design welcoming you into the house. Windows are aesthetically placed between these walls; allowing the flow of light and breeze. Another advantage of these walls is the privacy it offers. This is because of the peculiar way of placing the windows. The design partially blocks the view from outside. There are four such walls in front of the house. Eladio Dieste, a world renowned engineer from Uruguay, is the campaigner of sinusoidal walls. Concrete has not been used in the construction of these undulating walls.
Soil collected from the courtyard of another house that belongs to Philip was used to make Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks. The blocks were made on the site itself. “Only one-fourth of the energy, utilized for making bricks, is required to makes CSEB,” says Philip. “We can save transportation charges, fuel and labor charges.”
This house stands out from the conventional design of arraying the rooms inside square frames. Many factors were considered in deciding the position of the rooms: the peculiarities of the plot, the movement of the sun, the direction of the wind and so on. Three key factors have played the pivotal role in designing: Air ciculation, free space and privacy. Large windows made of cast iron and GI are fixed in the common areas, allowing ample flow of light and breeze. The sizes of the rooms were decided after taking into account the desire of the family members who preferred old furniture inside the house. One of the major attractions in the interior is the staircase that is built near to the dining space. Precast concrete slabs are used for the staircase. These slabs were fixed on the walls during the construction. This staircase has no handrails.
Except for the bathrooms, flooring tiles, that are identical to the earth blocks on the walls, have been used in all the rooms. Bathrooms are tiled with genuine bathroom tiles and its walls are plastered as they often get wet. There was a well inside the compound, which never dried up even during the hottest of summers. The owners, eco-friendly at heart, have preserved it. The well has proved to be a true blessing, as the residents of the house will not suffer during the summers. Besides, the presence of the well also preserves a cool ambiance inside the house!