Far from the madding crowd

Far from the madding crowd

Going Green

As one drives down the rough terrain, after passing the helipad on Lalithadrapura road, into the farm house, the strikingly simple, elegant driveway, the manicured lawns, the sloped tiled roofing, the sit-in verandah, the green hedge for compound, everything about the surroundings shows the taste and amount of hard work that has gone into it. B G Uthaiah and wife Mala have toiled hard for more than fifteen years at the Vaishanvi farm to whip it into shape.

“I wanted a green building using tiles, wood, natural materials like stone and Betham charla (Andhra marble) for flooring. The result is there for you to see,” Uthaiah tells City Herald. “My husband was dissuaded from moving to this farm, which was bought in 1971, as it was almost in the back of the beyond with just the view of the Lalitha Mahal Road and hardly any soul in the vicinity,” adds Mala.

However, the desire to build something different was so strong that Uthaiah was willing to take risks. He found a few supporting his ideas like Ravikumar who used to work for CART in National Institute of Engineering those days. Also architect Rajesh Kumar Jain encouraged him to use low cost technology with green concepts. Thus using chappadi or granite stones for lintel helped save on steel and concrete, which is also recyclable, saved cost and energy.

As one enters the drawing room and walks inside, the house is bathed in natural light in daytime.  This is because of the sky light which provides light even during cloudy days,  which gives a feeling of volume inside the home, and gets fresh air into the building.
The plastering of the house is done using stabilsed mud mortar in interiors to absorb moisture and helps in reducing the heat absorption. The outside wall is left unplastered which saves on materials cost and gives a natural feeling, said Uthaiah.“When we were constructing the house we had to move to an apartment for a few days. We had a dog which was  a ‘beagle’ breed. It started limping. But soon after we moved into the farm, within a few days it was just perfectly back to normal. Then we realised that it was because of the hard flooring in the flat that had caused its limping and the Betham charla flooring here is so soft on the feet that it helped the dog to recover,” he said.

The arched roof where eight inch thick hollow clay block is used, is done without any centering and without steel. This reduces the heat to interiors drastically. In summer the interior is cooler and in winter it is warmer, maintaining comfort for which the building is built. It saves plastering and no regular painting is required, said Uthaiah.

In the drawing room, as one looks at the roof, it strikes one, as the natural red tiles attracts the attention. The inner drawing room which has the sky light has another added attraction, a pond with fish which gives one a soothing feeling just watching those exotic species swimming.  “The students of architecture and architects regularly visit the farm, to study the cost effective methods used,” said Uthaiah who is a landscaping artiste and also has an organic nursery of ornamental plants.

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