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Indian Real Estate News : Bangalore
Want to build a sustainable house? Opt for a mud hut
Source: The Times of India Sep 09, 2016
Traditional mud huts make for beautiful imagery in rural landscape. But very few actually exist. What's more, there are just a handful of people who know how to build them. Those who live in handmade mud huts are the poorest in the village. The government too does not recognise them as houses and will not provide loans to construct or rebuild such "kachcha" structures, irrespective of the fact that these are most sustainable.

Smitha Kamath, a former IT consultant from Bengaluru, took up a mission to revive the lost practice by building a 30x12 sq ft hut on her organic farm in Channapatna, about 60 km from Bengaluru.

The hut was hand-built by villagers - with Smitha joining them now and then - with building materials sourced from within a 3-km radius: earth from their land, raw bricks from the kiln, wood from fallen trees and bamboo. A little cement was, however, used to hold together windows and a door. The door too was up cycled from Bengaluru.

"We got a few people who had seen their grandfathers build these houses when they were children. They enjoyed doing it," the 44-year-old said.

Mud was mixed with water and left for a few days to become sticky. This binding mixture holds the structure together. The roof is made from woven coconut fronds. The inner walls are coated with cow dung and outer walls with lime for waterproofing and repelling insects.

It has a dry toilet which doubles as a composting pit and an open well and a sacred grove, an afforested patch of protected vegetation, nearby.

The hut used minimal resources and will stand for decades to come, says Smitha. "When a lot of houses were razed recently," Kamath recollected, "the machines found it hard to break the mud huts. The locals call it 'kabbana' (iron)."

During her visits, Kamath lent a hand to the construction and often brought volunteers with her. This also drew the interest of the villagers and drove home a strong message about sustainability. Sandeep Anirudhan, who runs Aikyam, a community which works towards making sustainability mainstream, also contributed to the building as a volunteer. "The house breathes," he said, "When you sit inside, it feels as if you are inside a living organism."

He observe that the natural air-conditioning and lack of emissions make it a healthier place to live in. "In everything that we do, there are sustainable choices. Very often, going back to our traditional ways is the most sustainable of them all," he said.

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