How to design, build an eco-friendly and low-cost urban mud house

Veena Lal, who runs a charitable society for destitute children by the name of Karm Marg, has made it possible

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 14 April 2022

Is it easy to design and build an eco-friendly and low-cost mud house in a city like Delhi? Veena Lal, who runs a charitable society for destitute children by the name of Karm Marg, has made it possible.

Her organisation, organic farm and mud house are located in Sector 84, Faridabad in the Delhi-National Capital Region. This video is about Veena Lal’s house built within her organic farm.

She is a firm believer in sustainable architecture and designing habitats for optimum use. She has applied the same for her own house and went ahead with the decision to build with mud.

After years of research, travel and a global pandemic, the house was finally complete in 2021. It is built from 70 per cent sun-dried mud bricks (adobe bricks) and 30 per cent fired bricks, cement and stone.

Amol Mankeekar was appointed for designing and executing the project. Amol, a 30-yr old young architect, has been specialising in mud structures and was associated with the late Didi Contractor (Delia Narayan Kinzinger) who specialised in natural buildings and had received the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2019.

Amol designed the house in a ‘plus’ shape to open each space to at least two-three open sides and allow maximum ventilation in the house. The house was supposed to be built completely in mud but due to maintenance issues, one leg (comprising all the utility spaces such as toilets, staircase, bathroom and wash area) was built in fired bricks and cement.

The whole house is designed to keep water consumption and water flow in mind. Hence, all the water is channeled naturally towards two sets of banana trees that soak up the water and its nutrients. Even the toilet is a dry toilet without any flush or sewage system.

The human waste is treated to prepare compost which is then used on the organic farm. Air conditioning is not required as the house is well ventilated and maintains the temperature inside the house.

This is also because of the thick mud walls and mud floors that insulate the house well too. The backside faces the north and is used in summers, while the front side faces the south and is thus used in winters.

There are various other features in the house design that have been incorporated according to Veena Lal’s preferences.

According to Didi Contractor, “The house should be like a set, where life can take place. It should blend as much as possible. It shouldn’t stand out. The house shouldn’t be an identity in itself. It should just provide a space for that person’s life to happen.”

Also, for her sustainability meant, “you do whatever is possible from your side and then a little more. There is no one end goal. There is always a spectrum.”

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