C N Raaghav is an architect based in Coimbatore whose home Casa Roca (‘house with natural stones’) has become the talk of the town. Armed with a degree in robotic architecture from Spain, one of the prime motivations for building the house was to showcase how sustainable Indian architectural practices are.
Speaking to The Better India, Raaghav says, “Having travelled to over 40 countries, I can say with certainty that the architectural practices followed in India are of very high quality. Some of the old buildings in India are a testament to that.”
Casa Roca is Raaghav’s way of incorporating some of those age-old practices into his own home. Built on a 2500 sq ft space, Casa Roca aims to be sustainable with zero carbon emission. “This is a very modern façade with all the traditional aspects kept alive inside the house,” says Raaghav.
Celebrating Vernacular Architecture
From picking handmade tiles from Athangudi and stones for the pillars from Karaikudi, both in Tamil Nadu to using upcycled glass bottles Raaghav has tried to source material from his local sources. He says, “We managed to build this house in eight months. Its unique style and architecture sets it apart and can be described as every neighbours’ envy.”
Speaking about the unique features of his house, Raaghav says, “The slabs I have used to make the roof of the house are made of clay plates, which reduce thermal heat by up to 30 per cent. Along with this, some glass tiles have also been used, which gives us natural light during the day. These are small measures which go a long way in reducing our dependence on electricity.”
Raghav has also used a unique technique known as Rat Trap Bond to build a brick wall.
This technique is a brick masonry method of wall construction in which bricks are placed in a vertical position instead of the conventional horizontal position, thus creating a cavity (hollow space) within the wall. It was Laurie Baker who introduced it in Kerala in the 1970s and used it extensively for its lower construction cost, reduced material requirement and better thermal efficiency than conventional masonry walls, without compromising the strength of the wall.
As a native, Raaghav was well-versed with the challenges and climatic conditions of the region. “That knowledge helped in designing the home,” he says. Even on the parapet wall, there is a unique patterning work done, wherein the bricks are placed at a 13-degree bend. This creates an illusion when seen from the road and also presents a great look from the outside.
Raaghav named this design ‘Vernametric’.
“We have also created a kitchen garden, where herbs and vegetables are being grown. We realised the importance of growing our own food the most during the COVID-19 lockdown,” he says. The building is structured in such a way that the rainwater is collected and is currently taking care of the entire household’s needs. Additionally, Raaghav says that he also intends to install solar panels to take care of their needs.
All this has been achieved with a budget of under Rs 25 lakh and what’s even better is that close to Rs 36,000 is saved every year from what would have been the yearly electricity spend.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)