Habitat

THE HOLY COWSHED

 

The cowshed at sun farm was built for a capacity of 8 cows. This cowshed is located at the heart of the farm, becoming a place also for the farmworkers to congregate during breaks.

The work of the cowshed which happened in phases over one year was filled with dedication, devotion and a spirit of a new beginning for the land. We realised we were building not just a cow-shed, but a temple.

The design considers the solar axis for passive heating, ventilation, and ease of cleaning, the few most important requirements for a cowshed in this context. The cow dung collected every day is composted on the terrace just below, feeding the lower vegetable gardens. The harvest refuge and grasses growing on the edge of these terraces are also food for the cows. This creates a simple flow of nutrition from the cowshed to the farm and back.

An analysis of entry and exit of resources was put into consideration to create a place full of energy, taking into account the storage and flow of rainwater, cow dung and urine and the route of the cows at the same time as the entry and exit of materials for good care of them.

Since Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. The rains can be heavy with strong winds. Therefore, the protection of walls from rainwater is an important aspect. Also, the temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation, with high-temperature shifts between day and night, thus having thermal mass in the building is beneficial.

So the main purpose of the structure was to keep the cows warm, dry and safe from wildlife.

The structure would also be a place to store fodder (grass and straw), firewood, and 3 vermicomposting units. (Read here for more on other design features)

The design of the cowshed evolved with changing realities of the land and our observations of the behavior of the cows.

 

Footprint: 85 sq. m.

Material: Eucalyptus, stone, mud, cow dung from the site. Cement for feeders and a thin layer on the floor to make cleaning easier.
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Technique: Wattle in daub
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Status: Completed in 2016

 

 

 

 

Read about rainwater harvesting design for the cowshed

Read about the rocket stove design for the cowshed

 

 

 

THE MAIN HOUSE

This was a house for a couple, wanting to build their retirement home in which they could accommodate four people. Their main interest was to capture the best sunrises and sunsets through the windows and have a hall (sunroom) for their meditation practices.

The design of the house grew around the natural landscape and its features like rock, water, and trees.

The biggest challenge in this design was to maintain a healthy balance between the interests of the client and my values as a designer. During this design, I had to reflect a lot of my role as an architect, the role of a designer, the conflict of need and want, of context and comfort.

 

Footprint: 310 sq. m.

Material: Eucalyptus, stone, mud, cement, and fire bricks

Technique: Stone masonry and compressed bricks

Status: Unbuilt

 

 

Map of Sun farm
(Details and labeling by Rico Zook)