Monday, January 3, 2011

January 1, 2011

Opened the new year at Kovalam Beach on the Arabian Sea. I can now claim to have seen the three major oceans of the world.

Itinerary for January 1st:

Visit the Laurie Baker Centre (LBC) for lectures and tour.
Visit Self-employed Women's Association (SEWA) paper factory

We attended a lecture on low-cost construction technology outlining affordable materials and technology drawn from Laurie Baker's architectural philosophy. There are an impressive multitude of ways to save costs on construction projects if all elements of the building are considered. This includes not only the types of architectural features but also the the building process, type of materials (bricks, mortar, cement, mud, etc.) and the lifespan of materials. The Laurie Baker philosophy of architecture seems to be "use what you have."

We were lectured at the Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies, a campus designed by Baker and the COSTFORD team. The main building was originally built for an Indian-Canadian homeowner:

The campus occupies the site of a former quarry, which has since been largely restored into a tropical forest habitat:

Having seen several restored quarries in North America of similar age, the rate of regeneration is impressive. The difference in the growing seasons is remarkable:

Nearby is a rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) plantation where latex is collected for refinement into rubber:

Our final stop of the day was the Self-employed Women's Association paper-making facility. Here, paper items are handcrafted from recycled cotton fibre and newspapers, mixed with dye and pressed to produce colorful paper used to make notebooks, cards and boxes. SEWA's factory is also located in a building constructed by Laurie Baker and the COSTFORD team.

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