Our exploration of Kerala has been focused on the architecture of Laurie Baker, founder of COSTFORD. Baker developed unique design elements and construction techniques that minimize the financial cost and environmental impact of buildings.
Baker's buildings are site-specific: they reflect topographical and climatic conditions in their location.
Preservation of natural conditions (respecting topography, not disturbing groundwater, preserving existing flora)
Visual connections to exterior:
Courtyards are ubiquitous in Baker's buildings:
The engineering and construction of Baker's buildings are also eco-sensitive. Foundations, walls and roofs are often reinforced with construction-grade bamboo instead of structural steel.
Roofs: cement, which has a high financial and environmental cost to produce, is only used for reinforcement, otherwise terra cotta slabs are used as filler.
Walls: locally-sourced adobe bricks are arranged to maximize structural stability with less material:
Architectural elements of his buildings are eco-sensitive in their material and design. Baker employed materials with low embodied energy (energy used to produce and dispose of), local materials and recycled materials:
His buildings maximize energy conservation through site planning (for example, using the south Indian science of vaste shastra, the "science of building," which dictates good architectural design similar to Chinese Feng Shui). Baker's buildings also use passive cooling, alternate sources of energy and day lighting. Elements of water conservation and waste recycling are also visible.
Overall, Baker's architecture is not only practical but attractive: