Page E2.1 . 18 February 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Ecohouses in India and Wales

by Sue Roaf

Eco-architecture sees buildings as part of the larger ecology of the planet and the building as part of a living habitat. This contrasts with the more common notions of many architects, who see a building as a work of art, perhaps on exhibition in a settlement or as "frozen music" in the people-less pictures of glossy magazines.

These two case studies, from very different climates, show that ecohouses can be closely connected to their site, society, climate, region, and the planet. The first is a collection of courtyard houses (1999) in New Delhi, designed by A. B. Lall Architects. The project explores the challenges of designing and building a house in a dense urban setting.

This eco-project includes four courtyard houses facing an alley. These are all large single-family houses, two to three stories high. This enables the sections of the buildings to be designed integrally for enjoying the winter sun. The passive devices that interact with the external elements are given a central place in the architectural language of the buildings.

The general orientation of the buildings is east-west, with most window openings in the north and south faces. The two houses to the south, because of their square proportions in plan, also face towards the east and west. The windows on these faces look into narrow protected alleys or the small courtyard between the houses. The alley space on the west side is shaded by retaining the wall of the original double-storey building that had previously lined the side street.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Ecohouse2: A Design Guide by Sue Roaf, Stephanie Thomas, and Manuel Fuentes, with permission of the publisher, Architectural Press, Inc.

 

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Facade of a courtyard house in New Delhi, designed by A.B. Lall Architects.
Photo: Ashok Lall

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Ground floor plan, New Delhi courtyard house.
Image: A.B. Lall Architects

 

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