Ar. Milind Pai, Milind Pai, Architects & Interior Designers
Ar. Milind Pai, Milind Pai architects-min
An essential aspect of any civilization is its architecture. The structures built during this period are an indication of its economic, social as well as political history. The materials used can give us an idea of the geography and the links of one civilization with another. Many conclusions can be drawn from just one structure lost in time. The truth is, with all the hype in technology, material science, and down-to-try-it attitude today we keep on constructing structures, but it’s time to pause and look back to our past building techniques for sustainability.
“The future of architecture isn’t about one trend. It isn’t about a hundred, if not a thousand different structures, it’s about deriving pivots, anchor points, primary stations and creating links from the past to create unique yet sustainable designs/homes of the future.”
The insightful treasures of knowledge left by our ancestors can help us build better cities. They knew nature well because it surrounded them. By creating sustainable homes, we are not only keeping ourselves and the future safe but also making sure that the next generations get to live in a healthy natural environment. Their knowledge fused with the modern technology can make the future of housing a better reality.
Today we are in the age of experimentalism in architecture and going beyond just building houses. A building should be like a tree, which can root itself in a particular place, generating its energy, interacting with the natural networks around it and creating complex ecosystems and landscapes together with other trees. Architecture has also developed into smart designs and optimized layouts. The buildings we build today will even tell a lot about us to our next generations. Technology has reached a limit where we can sense natural calamities with machines built specifically for it; something the tribal community knew probably even before the caveman discovered fire. The ancient man was one with nature and not only predicted it but also co-existed with its unpredictability.
Aneyoshi, a small village in Iwate Prefecture on Japan’s north-eastern coast was saved by a centuries-old engraved monument which said: “Do not build your homes below this point.” after being hit by two tsunamis back to back. This is not the only engraving on monuments that convey messages; many such monuments with oral tradition passed through generations. These words talk about sensing danger and also avoiding it. When we look at ancient houses, we can see patterns of how people in different regions built homes that were suitable for their region’s climatic conditions.
When we look at Native American houses such as the Wigwams, we get a better understanding of how people built structures with no harm to the environment around them. These are quick and easy to build and are adaptable to the changing climatic conditions of the region throughout the year.
The ancient man had figured out how to build a half-dugout shelter which was a fusion of sod house and a log cabin. It had a floor that was 1-1.5-meter underground level. These kept them safe from the harsh cold in the region and let them store excess food during winter. This can also be termed as the first prototype of a basement. These shelters could withstand forces of the wind. Many such structures show that using materials from nature can help one insulate their houses and keep safe from nature’s harsh behaviour. But what can the modern architects learn from the past?
The need of time is creating homes incorporating materials and natural elements from the past with the advance building technologies of the present to build for the future. If we understood what old buildings are saying to us, we would be less eager to rip them down, and perhaps might even emulate them in our new premises. We repeatedly hear about the housing shortage faced by India and with a growing population particularly in urban areas, we need to be smart about addressing this need too. To keep up with the changing world, the homes of the future will have to be a lot more forward-thinking: renewable energy, compact sizes, mobility and decreased waste and eco-friendly.
One of the few options of sustainable residences could be the Self-Sustaining Pod Homes. It can be placed just about anywhere, including atop urban buildings, and can transform an office into a lounge to tiny lodgings. Designed by Nau architects, the 28-foot-long Living Roof Capsule generates its own electricity via solar and wind power and can be used as a private mobile penthouse.
Another example is the cylindrical design of the Gemini House, almost entirely covered in solar panels, ensures that maximum rays are caught throughout the day and changing seasons for constant, reliable renewable energy. In addition to 150 meters of solar panels that follow the sun, the home boasts extreme thermal insulation, a heat recovery system and a highly unusual, futuristic look.
“Future architecture should be a primordial catalyst
For bridging displaced people back to the spaces of their past.”
Similarly, if we design every structure be it a tiny house or a big building taking into consideration the climatology of that particular region and designing it in sync with nature, we can create sustainable homes not only for a better present but a brighter future.