Bangalore’s Greenest Homes: Every brick counts in Bhumija

Indigenous exposed clay work, an expansive garden, solar panels, grey water recycling, – Bhumija has literally left no stone unturned in building a living, breathing green home.


The first impression you get when you come upon Bhumija- the beautiful residence of Mahalakshmi and Jayaram in HSR layout – is that it is a big castle!

The princess like house rests firmly grounded on principles of sustainability – with indigenous stone work, large green spaces, solar power, rain water harvesting, total use of grey water and a conscious lifestyle that reflects in everything that the family buys and uses.

Bhumija- The beautiful mansion of Mahalakshmi Jayaram at HSR Layout

“I wanted to design my house in a way that I could conserve material, which is why you see all this exposed stone,” says Mahalakshmi, an architect herself. The ground floor walls are entirely made of unpolished <what> stone giving the house a natural look. Sun-dried local tiles from a small-scale industry in Chettinad have been used to cover the floor. Very little cement or concrete has been used.

But that’s not the best thing about the house. In an era of power hungry devices and frequent cuts, Bhumija runs completely on sunpower! Bhumija houses 12 solar panels on the rooftop and a solar heater which has eliminated the use of geysers. Except for bore-well pumping and the use of the microwave, all other devices run completely on solar energy.

“Changing one’s lifestyle completely is impractical. For example, we really need a car to get around. But as far as possible, we have tried to minimize costs – both structural and living costs,” she says.

The house is designed in way to provide sufficient natural light all day long.

All construction has been carried out using local labour and material – stone work from Narsipura, flooring with Aathangudi files from Chettinad, and local Hoordi tiles to keep it naturally cool.

The first floor of the house is built out of normal bricks which have been left open, unplastered, in an effort to avoid the cost of plaster and paint. It also accentuates the retro effect the house has on its visitors.

The house’s stonework is local to Bangalore and Karnataka, an aesthetic the couple wanted to be reflected in their house. “It should reflect the local context,” says Mahalakshmi. The entire house was completed in 17 months flat, thanks to efficient contractors, leaving very little in terms of construction debris or waste as well.

The cost of getting the labour for a green construction like this is a bit high, but the family has adjusted by cutting down on other less important things like fancy furniture and flooring.

“We all have a budget. Am not saying you should go out of budget to go green, but you should prioritize your investments,” says Mahalakshmi.

Every little detail in the house has been done after a lot of thought. “We wanted a garden right from the beginning, so we knew that the garden would consume a lot of water. And hence the grey water recycling. We don’t recycle black water only because we didn’t have sufficient space,” she adds.

Mahalakshmi’s favourite place in the house is the 1000 sq ft garden that lets nature merge seamlessly with the house.

Sustainability has also found ways and means through things the family does everyday – like shift to organic soaps and detergents as soon as they shifted to this house in November 2011.  All waste is segregated and organic matter composted using a Daily Dump pot. The family consciously buys less and makes do with what they have as long as it is in good working condition.

Mahalakshmi is modest about the family’s efforts so far. “We have not compromised much by trying to be green. You can go all the way and do the extreme thing but that’s not for everybody. We decided to find our balance in the middle.”

“I have come to understand that very small things can bring a change.  It is really worth that effort. Composting for instance, you have tools and help now everywhere, you just have to change your mind and say ‘Yes, I want to do it.’ You could start at home with small things,” she says.

Mahalakshmi with her son Hemanth

So, what does green mean to me?

“Green means moderation in a way. Don’t overuse the resources that are available. Some people use more and some people use less, which is not right. Use everything in moderation. Even in architecture, use only material that is required.”

Bhumija is at 13th Main, HSR, Sector 5, Bangalore. Contact Mahalakshmi at- mahalakshmi_jayaram@yahoo.com

We acknowledge the assistance of Biome Environmental Solutions in obtaining information that made this piece possible.

All pics: Shreya Pareek

Bangalore’s greenest homes is a series on beautiful homes that have been built on strong sustainability principles – from natural building materials to efficient light and space design, water harvesting, off-the-grid energy energy, eco-friendly decor and furniture. And a lifestyle for the residents where less has meant a lot more. 

This series on Bangalore’s greenest homes has been done with the support of ZED Habitats – the largest green  residential developer in India today, and a leader in pioneering building technologies and management systems.

This piece is a part of ‘Paint Your Green‘ campaign for World Environment Day to “Bring Sustainability Home.”

 


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shreya Pareek is a development journalist who is passionate about grassroot change and sustainable living. Follow her on twitter @shreya08 more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shreya Pareek is a development journalist who is passionate about grassroot change and sustainable living. Follow her on twitter @shreya08 more

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  • Aashish Jadhav

    This home has opened up a lot of though process, the practical side of course. The aspect of reusing the material within the site is fantastic. So much of landfill avoided. This certainly should be the practice by all.

    Thanx for sharing

    Aashish