In an exclusive interview of Architect ChitraViswanathof Biome Solutions
Please tell us what led to the idea of Biome.
Biome” the name was my husband Vishwanath’s idea. Biome as an ecological practice started way back in 1990 in the name of “ChitraVishwanath” architects (for want of any creative idea to name the practice as such which on hindsight was a good thing- imagine being called CV Architects–very boring!). In 2000, Vishwanath started “Rainwater Club” which still exists as an NGO. Rainwater Club worked on water and sanitation issues and it did not mostly work on any architectural projects by ChitraVishwanath Architects but on projects handled by other architects and developers.. In 2008, Rainwater Club and ChitraVishwanath architects came together and formed Biome. By 2008 ChitraVishwanath Architects had established a name on design of ecologically sensitive architecture which integrated building with earth as well as intelligent water and sanitation solutions. “Biome” is defined as ecology of a place- and since we work on ecological designs we felt this was an apt name for the office.
Could you elaborate on the techniques used in building design?
The technique used in building design is just like what any architect is taught and trained to do. Discuss with the client, note the site and design according to the climate while keeping the costs incurred frugal.
Green homes are not more expensive. When they are, they are green washed and not truly green. We prefer the term ecological than Green. Why ecological? It is a term which embraces both ecology and logic! Our designs are contextual. We have grown as a practice in Bangalore. Architecture requires resources to build with and resources to survive. In Bangalore, the materials used to build are granite stone and bricks. Granite stone walls are thicker and increasingly becoming difficult and further to source from . Bricks are made in abandoned agriculture fields and the process leaves the land completely fallow. The soil being sandy than clayey the bricks are not of very good quality so need to be plastered. All these-making, firing, transportation and plastering- adds to the ecological and carbon footprint. The soil for earth buildings are sourced from below the foot of the owner-the space which would be a-biotic. A basement is created by giving soil for the home as well, at times, for another home nearby. This way the ecological and carbon footprint and embodied energy are minimized. Bangalore gets its water from places 100 km away from the city and lifts it up by 1/2 km. Wherever we do not get water supply from Cauvery, the owners dig bore wells which have reached the depth of 300 meters now. This too is high in embodied energy and is not a resource which can be depended upon lifelong. Bangalore is truly placed to in terms of the rainfall. We incorporate rainwater harvesting along with greywater/blackwater treatment thereby minimizing waste flows and providing for water security. Integrating renewable is not becoming a way of life in Bangalore and it is a plug in solution. With all the systems incorporated the cost not more than conventional buildings, but surely the ecological cost is lower which should be the determinant.