Wayanad native Baburaj’s only plan was to build a bamboo house, little did he know it would be in the middle of a pond. Today, his three-storeyed house also helps them earn a livelihood.
Baburaj, a teacher and environmentalist, used to live in a concrete rented house for about 10 years. When he realised its disadvantages, he wished to live a more sustainable life. His association with Uravu, an organisation that focuses on promoting a lifestyle and infrastructure based on bamboo, fuelled this idea. In 2007, with the help of his designer friend Aneesh, Baburaj initiated the construction of his bamboo home.
Three years later, a 3000 sq ft structure was erected in Thrikaipatta, a place near Meppadi, which was recently declared as a Bamboo heritage village by the State Government. The house is known as Bamboo Villa which also works as a homestay that welcomes tourists.
“Several people are engaged in bamboo artistry and many houses are built using bamboo in this village. It was after purchasing this 18 cent land that I came to know it comes under farmland status. So, I decided to build a pond in my plot and the house was then built on stilts,” says bamboo enthusiast Baburaj.
Bamboo Reinforcement Technology
Baburaj has used a different technology called bamboo reinforcement to build his dream house. It is a method of filling the bamboo with concrete. This sustainable model decreases the use of steel and solidity to the building.
“I insisted on constructing the house in a pyramid shape. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it works as a wall and a roof, which reduces cost. But there will be limited space inside which doesn’t feel like a problem for us,” adds Baburaj.
During the construction, he met with several problems such as lack of skilled labourers. “Most of them criticised the idea. Finally, workers at Uravu and other local artisans were trained to build this structure. It was a new experience for them too,” he reminisces.
Other than six varieties of bamboo including Bambusa and Strictus, bricks, mud tiles and stones were used to complete the construction. The house is minimally furnished and most of the furniture is made of bamboo. Almost 90 per cent of the bamboo needed for building the house was grown by Baburaj himself.
A total of Rs 29 lakh was spent to complete the construction of the pond and house. The amount is far lesser than a concrete house with a similar area. Two rooms on the third floor are provided for tourists as a homestay, and Baburaj and his family also prepare food for them.
Baburaj breeds different varieties of fishes in his pond including some rare species. One can spot images of fishes all over the house – on windows, doors and as artwork.
He says, “Fish plays an important role in my life. We are constantly reminded by them to stay active and move all over. I indeed have a craze for them.”
The pond is a smart way to retain the cool temperatures inside the house. Also, it helps in water conservation. “Rainwater collected on the rooftop is carried to the pond which aids in meeting our requirements even during summer,” he says contentedly.
Baburaj does not doubt the durability and safety of the house. Also, he believes that in this age of climate change, all houses should be made sustainably and one should reserve some space to grow some food items like vegetables.
“We live in an age where a sustainable lifestyle is of great significance. I feel that the government should furnish tax exemptions for eco-friendly houses to promote it,” Baburaj opines.
If you are interested in visiting or staying at Baburaj’s sustainable home, visit the Bamboo Villa.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)