BioArchitects: Walking the environmental path
Areen Attari and Shahveer Irani, the young ‘Bio Architects’ of Put Your Hands Together use natural materials to create eco-friendly structures. They spoke to Realty Plus about their unique ideas and the hardships they faced in their journey.
Please elaborate about “Put Your Hands Together”.
Our company “Put Your Hands Together”- BioArchitects offers environment-friendly architecture and interiors. Our main intention is to create architecture using locally available natural materials. The construction world industry consumes around 70% of our resources. So how do we reduce that? The company started with small projects and now over the years have designed eco-resorts and housing societies using our unique eco-friendly concepts..
What inspired you to come up with this bio-architect idea?
By 2050, most of the country would be in urban areas. In order to create a tangible impact, we need to create an environment sensitive architecture. Our passion to create appropriate architecture that is socially relevant and environment friendly led us to start with our firm PYHT- Bio-architects. We feel that through our work we can have a larger impact on the society and create awareness.
You have worked in both rural and urban areas, what was your experience there? What differences could you see in both these areas?
The differences are stark and huge. The kind of work we do in rural areas is very ground-oriented. We’ve worked all over Gujarat documenting housing and proposing new types of housing. We have also worked in rural Nepal and rural Maharashtra. I guess, some challenges that come up in rural areas is that the infrastructure there is not as good as to what you find in urban areas. But the best part about rural areas is that people there have a very sustainable lifestyle already so anything that has been built is already in accordance with surrounding environment. We actually take up a lot of inspiration from vernacular rural architecture because we believe that over the years, people have evolved with very nice examples of contextual architecture.
Another challenge is to inspire and motivate the locals to continue and better the ways in which they are already living than getting influenced by urban areas. Because often, people want to copy the urban-area architecture- they see new materials and they get attracted to that. But we do not preach saying “do this” but we rather build by example.
What about the differences in consumer demand in rural and urban areas?
People in rural areas are not usually our direct consumers/clients. People in such areas do not directly hire architects unless it’s a government project. A lot of our clients include people living in the urban environment. Some projects that we do are in the city while some are on the outskirts or far away from the city. So most of our consumers are currently from urban areas.
How would you categorize your projects?
Our projects range from affordable to luxury range, depending on the material used or construction technology used. Affordable housing can only be done through government schemes, not through the materials used and architecture practiced. Obviously, there are some materials through which you can achieve extravagant and luxury outcomes which could not fit in the “affordable” ranges but you cannot make an entire project “affordable” only through construction technology.
Could you share the challenges that you have faced along the way?
The hardships that we’ve faced are mainly because of the work that we do. The first is, getting clients with same outlook. Luckily, we haven’t had to convince or “push” anyone and have slowly but steadily getting clients.
The second is the monetary profits that are slow to come due to the projects taking 2-3 years for completion. By the time you have 4-5 projects in your portfolio, you’ve spent 5 years and then the business starts to pick up.
Another challenge is resistance to change. Luckily, we’ve never experienced any resistance from the client but from people around the client- the relatives, the neighbours, or even contractors. There is always one person who resists our ideas and designs but we believe that if you are going to do something different, then people are likely to resist.
What are your future plans?
To continue following our passion and what we love to do and to hopefully have a variety of projects following this kind of alternative architecture. Currently some of our projects include home stays, eco-resorts, weekend homes, rural housing, post-disaster housing. We would like to try our hands at different things using these newer eco-materials, creating beautiful spaces.
We plan to also concentrate on interiors in the coming years. Since last 6 months to a year, we are working towards creating and introducing sustainable interiors in urban areas.