The word “eco-friendly” does not sound so cool to not so well-informed consumers. It evokes certain images in their mind’s eye – dull and dreary! They always grapple with second thoughts and tend to focus more on aesthetics, easy maintenance, colour and durability but not on environment-friendly aspects. However, the change in mindset is rising as people see the pros and cons of their choice on the environment with extra caution.
They want to ensure the air that they breathe in is fresh and clean. Therefore, selecting the right eco-friendly flooring may not only help improve the health of the families by keeping harsh chemicals out of our home but also helps make sure that we are not depleting natural resources. Thankfully, experts who are in the building industry are now doing their bids to combat poor air quality by emphasising the importance of environmentally-friendly flooring.
In this article, Surfaces Reporter is presenting some of the projects by architects who used eco-friendly materials in flooring.
Project: Farmer’s Abode
Artha Studio Pune
Artha Studio is a Pune-based firm founded by Saurabh Malpani with Ashka Nai in 2007. The firm is strongly committed in creating meaningful designs to sustainably advance the development of rural and urban communities. Their works fervently reflect their consciousness on sustainable design that are responsive to its socio-economic and environmental context.
A very common character of an Indian village home is the cow dung plastered floors. In Farmer’s Abode, we have coated the living and dining verandah floors with cow-dung. This eco-friendly material has various benefits that they are yet to be extensively explore.
The dung has anti-bacterial properties making it the best natural disinfectant. Recent research has showed cow-dung to also be an excellent mood enhancer. Local availability and economic viability are the add-on benefits. Cow dung regulates the overall temperature balance in the living space keeping it warm in the winter and cool during summer hence making it an ideal flooring material.
Salvaged Wood flooring
In Farmer’s Abode, the bed room has wooden flooring. The timber used is salvaged from the local village temple that is under reconstruction thus making it economically feasible. The reclaimed wood from mature trees is stronger and less prone to splitting, as the timber has been exposed to the disaster over a period of time.
Old wood also tends to have a dense grain making it more stable. One of the most important aspects of reclaimed timber is its character. Every section has a story and no two pieces are identical, giving depth and unique quality.
The fire bricks used for the courtyard flooring were salvaged from a fire kiln factory in the nearby area. The intension behind the material was to have a fire camp in the courtyard during winter nights.
These bricks have low thermal conductivity and higher energy efficiency. Since it has been salvaged and there was no energy wastage in manufacturing the material is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Excavated from the nearby quarry the basalt stone paves the entry to Farmer’s Abode. Naturally occurring material made it impermeable and stands test of time. The solid rock cover marks the front porch space of the house and its non-porous quality helps rain water harvesting.
The easily available and low-maintenance basalt stone is a most sustainable option for outdoor flooring. The language is continued as the basalt flooring is taken onto the walls by giving an earthen look to the entire front facade.
Project: PARASMANI -The Nuevo Wada
Ar. Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect
Architecture Discipline believes in the advancement of regional forms of expression. In order to achieve this, they engage in full scale mock-ups & long-term material investigation. Sharing one of his projects where special flooring was used.
These fired earth tiles with a humble appearance bring a very natural look to the entire space. Terracotta flooring provides a rustic look that is hard to imitate. The sealed terracotta used indoor improves the quality of the flooring and will hold up to stains, moisture and scratches.
It is resistant to mould, fungus and bacterial growth as well. For all these advantages, terracotta flooring is still an affordable material. Made completely of moulded earth, the tiles is an eco-friendly material that makes the project more sustainable.
The burnt bricks bonded with lime plaster pave the entire courtyard of the Wada. The bricks are naturally available material bought from the nearby brick kilns and are sustainable flooring option.
These bricks can be laid in varied pattern accentuating the overall appeal of the outdoor space. Easy to maintain and support rain water harvesting, these bricks naturally come as eco-friendly choice leading way to sustainability.
B 23 House, New Delhi
The flooring components used in the project are completely acquired from or around the area and nothing has been pre-fabricated. Very few factory bought components are used. Mosaic was cast at the site with crushed Mother of Pearl for a subtle sheen. It is a hand-made and hand crushed mosaic. The material was chosen because of its simplistic elements.
The stone is cast in situ mosaic which was prepared by using crushed Mother of Pearl extracted from oysters, collected from local vendors. The house also enthrals with its waste wood flooring that is environment-friendly and aesthetic.
Gautam Dutta’s Residence
Gautam Dutta’s house in Gurgaon was rebuilt completely over a span of twelve months keeping all five elements - earth, air water, light and sky balanced. The soul was then infused deftly keeping the contemporary and classic art contradicting the normal. Though our primary intention was to highlight the eco-friendly flooring, however, we are so mesmerised by the approach that we decided to showcase a few of the other images as well.
When Ar. Rahul Sen was given this project his objective was to go beyond the technicalities of architecture and bring life and soul to the brick and mortar by completely revamping the old property to orchestrate space, introduce the house to natural light and increase movement within the house. So, while he kept the outer structure of the house intact, the layout was drastically modified, slabs were punctured for skylight, a floor was added with extensions and verandahs making the house well-lit and cross ventilated.
During the modification phase, Mr Dutta was introduced to the Saahil Parekh and Kaustabh Khare, the brains behind Khetify. He was impressed with the two entrepreneurs who pioneered the Urban Farming revolution in metros. After the first meeting Mr. Dutta was convinced to adopt farming as an intrinsic element of his house. Following which the space on the terrace was utilised & transformed into an urban farm. Next on the sustainability bucket was radiation. Mr Dutta opted for a radiation free home enhancing the wellbeing of the house. The technology neutralized the effect of harmful radiation emitted from natural & artificial sources cleaning the individual areas inside the house. The installation of this technology by Syenergy Environics required no change in the existing structure and took just a day for installation.
Mohammed Naser, a young artist based in Kerala has specially crafted intrinsic skin toned pieces with abstract designs for the house. The overall design philosophy revolves around refined use of art, a sophisticated earthy colour palette and strong silhouettes.
Ar. Girish Mysore, GreyScale Design Studio, Bangalore shared his thoughts & some project photos
Established in the Year 2015, GreyScale Design Studio is a new entrant in architectural space with focus on versatility & freshness in designing space. The Design Studio boasts of crafting socially, economically and environmentally viable spaces, eco-Friendly projects with minimalistic styles, recyclable wooden and earthen interiors, smart geometrical structures, technological innovation in design and parallel panache.
Girish, MD, GreyScale Design Studio believes that Ambiance, space, functionality, and economy – everything should come into action while designing any project. Their motto lies in - “WAYS OF LIFE” and this has helped them design spaces.
“If there is one buzzword that continues to rule the roost it has to be the environment. Today there is no business that can choose to ignore the environment and naturally products and services are turning green. Materials such as certified wooden flooring, non-toxic cork from the bark of the cork oak tree, bamboo flooring and flooring from marine content are some options that are being used in flooring. Like with most elements of a home, going green also incorporates aspects like being both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. This apart, there is an increased importance on using materials that are available locally, are eco-friendly, have a low carbon footprint and are also good for your feet due to their natural characteristic. In all, using biodegradable materials in flooring is certainly a trend that is here to stay.”