Bangalore’s Greenest Homes: Kachra Mane, the house of scrap

With 80% of the fittings from demolished houses, wood from scrap dealers, most household appliances bought second hand,Kachra Mane, gives a whole new meaning to the word “trash.”


As I entered GV Dasarathi’s naturally well-lit and ventilated “Kachra mane” (trash house) in Sadashivnagar, I was greeted by Laila and Shakuntala – the family dogs, who settled happily on the cement floor as I made myself comfortable in a (used) cane chair. The simplicity and sense of space at his place is striking.

Even before the ‘official ‘ interview began, I asked Dasarathi (Das) if one has to go to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, i.e., be the Director of a company and have a place in Sadashivnagar to be able to build a house almost entirely from used stuff from the ‘Sunday market’. He said, “Not necessarily; it is enough if you are nuts!” And it helped that his entire family is also nuts! But, what seems like nuts to others, is actually common sense, we figure out.

Das’s house was built about 2 years ago and it took just 7 months to build, with the cost being less than half of what a ‘conventional’ house would cost

I can barely focus on the questions that I need to ask as my eyes keep wandering to the various trash items that have found new meaning and purpose. Straw hats from the Sunday market and a bottle-gourd artwork picked up from a dustbin make beautiful lampshades. Drinking water is stored in used wine bottles. We were quite disappointed when Das poured out what looked white wine into a teapot, but hey, first, break the rules!

Das explains the philosophy behind his house with 4Rs – “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Rethink”. Here are just a few examples:

All windows, staircase, kitchen cupboards, book shelves are made from discarded pinewood packing cases. All they had to do was polish the wood with linseed oil. They got the wood dirt cheap (something like 1/20th the price of Teak)

All wardrobes, storage units, mirrors, etc. are used stuff

All wardrobes, storage units, mirrors etc are made of used stuff.

All bathroom fittings (Jaquar!) and kitchen sinks are from demolished buildings

All bathroom fittings are from demolished buildings.

Even glass for windows is from demolished buildings

Even glass for windows has been picked from demolished buildings.

All appliances – fridge, microwave, stove, etc. are used stuff

All appliances have been procured second hand.

All this stuff was bought at approximately 15% of what a new one would cost. The windows do not have any steel bars and as Das says, thieves are welcome to steal whatever they want because he can get new (old) ones again if required, again at throwaway prices. The whitewashed walls have a ¼ inch plaster instead of the regular 1 inch and they serve the purpose. As he says, “Windows are for letting the weather in and walls are for keeping them out.”

“Windows are for letting the weather in and walls are for keeping them out.”

Along every step of the 4R way to building a house, they asked ‘Why?’  – Why paint? Why tiles? Why 7-inch concrete roof? Why new stuff? “This is the ‘new’ way or rather the ‘old old’ way of looking at things instead of the ‘old new’ way where everything is being built from scratch using new material which causes extreme stress on the environment,” says Das.

But, not everyone is lucky to have their own space to experiment. “What about people living in apartments?” – we ask. Das is optimistic and says that the structure in a flat is just half the house. The other half is still in our hands and we can always choose the interiors and appliances in such a way as to reduce our ecological footprint and also save money! All the money that is saved could be used to go on holidays or invest in any such hobbies we may have.

Das is optimistic that people living in apartments can live just as sustainably.

Das’s house was built about 2 years ago and it took just 7 months to build, with the cost being less than half of what a ‘conventional’ house would cost. Before construction, he spent a considerable amount of time researching on the internet, meeting people and sourcing material. The house is constructed on an existing building and makes use of the structure as it is, without any changes. Even a sloping roof is morphed into a flat floor using wooden planks – an idea stolen from a Japanese restaurant.

The bamboo corrugated roofs in Das’s house.

Needless to say, rain water is harvested in a huge 20,000 liter sump. Experiments with grey water treatment are on, and solar power is on the anvil. Read the Water Ranger piece on The Alternative for more on how Das recycles all the water in his house.

Vijay and Dimple, architects from Maya Praxis designed the house, incorporating Das’s whacko ideas, and Vismaya Interiors converted the design into reality.

All contact details – from architects to where to source used glass – are available on his blog where he is shares his stories about living a low carbon life. He is extremely friendly and is happy to share his philosophy with interested people. On an average, he receives one visitor every fortnight, who is inspired to follow in his footsteps – whether it is a home or a restaurant.

All pics courtesy Deepti Indukuri, a photographer who is sensitive to issues around her and believes that presenting facts through photographs has a lot of impact. A healthcare Researcher by profession, a freelance photographer and a volunteer @ Jude Felix Hockey Academy and Notebook Drive @ IISc who enjoys documenting what she sees.

Das is a Mechanical Engineer and Director at Cadem Technologies. He is an avid user of sustainable transport and promotes it through the movement called Cybana – Cycle, Bus, Nadiyodu (Walk). He is also involved in a garbage segregation and recycling program called Sada Zero in his locality.

Come find out more about how the house that Das built, and his recycled life, at the June edition of Connect The Dots – Living Green – June 29th, 6:30 pm, Living Green.

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
Lavanya Keshavamurthy is a freelancer. When she is not wandering and is at base camp in Bengaluru, she spends most of her time in her small, urban garden and wonders at the amount of unlearning to be done in the world we live in. She aspires to be a farmer one day. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lavanya Keshavamurthy is a freelancer. When she is not wandering and is at base camp in Bengaluru, she spends most of her time in her small, urban garden and wonders at the amount of unlearning to be done in the world we live in. She aspires to be a farmer one day. more

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  • praju

    sir where do i get linseed oil. how much it will cost for a litre.

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  • shankar bhandarkar

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