By Namita Nathani
First Prototype at Citadines, Auroville’s city centre, where children use it as a collective space.
Photography: ©Anupama Kundoo
Dr Anupama Kundoo’s project, which recently won the Ferrocement Society of India’s V.D. Joshi award for best ferrocement structure characterizes ‘light’ in many ways: weight, cost and environmental impact...
As part of her quest for ‘housing for all’, this project explores the use of ferrocement for further material economy through optimum form development, and aims to offer a genuinely feasible prototype for affordable housing units. The architect questions current standards of green rated buildings, arguing that if ‘green architecture’ is not affordable by the masses, and not meant for everyone, then it is not green; for, if only a handful of people can afford those elitist buildings, they would hardly make a dent in the overall figures.
The kinetics of unfolding the formwork. Photography: ©Anupama Kundoo
The visible skeleton (mesh) of the ferrocement prototype at Sonepat near Delhi.
Photography: ©Marta San Vicente
25 mm thin ferrocement, a combination of chicken mesh and cement plaster, with a relatively low-embodied energy is moulded using knowledge of geometry, reasoned on using planate surfaces inspired by origami-crease-patterns for further material efficiency including low-investment formwork with reusable panels.
Full-scale prototypes for formwork using corrugated cartons were tested in Auroville, though the first ferrocement prototype was cast by plastering mesh directly from both sides.
Dr Kundoo inside her structure after completion. Photography: ©Marta San Vicente
Bielefeld Exhibition in Germany showcasing Dr Kundoo’s prototype. Photography:© Philipp Ottendörfer
At the 55th annual NASA Convention in January 2013, another improved version of the prototype was built as a pavilion at the entrance area of the architecture building at Sonepat near Delhi to celebrate the innovation that efficient structural engineering has empowered in architecture. In May 2013, the structure was exhibited under the theme, ‘New Modesty” at Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany showcasing 5 pioneering approaches that contemplate the social and cultural aspects in building design. Prototype is also part of the ongoing touring exhibition CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade, travelling to 7 Australian cities.
CUSP exhibition at Sydney (from left AbdonDantas, Kevin Park,Chi Tang, Anupama Kundoo,
Monique Baber, Kim Baber, Victoria Goh and Dong La)
Aware of the realities of both worlds, the developed and the developing, Dr Kundoo strives for a common standard across the globe, addressing the huge social segregation between humans. Her architecture addresses social issues through design, as she believes that it is possible to have a higher quality of life with less. Indistinguishable as her research, the structure speaks for itself as it is affordable, low in environmental impact and can also address disaster relief needs as easily as it can meet the whim of the urban dwellers to create a comfortable life, whether in the developed world or developing countries; in tropical-subtropical climatic zones. In the context of a global housing crunch, where permanent housing options remain unaffordable to most, Dr Kundoo gives hope.