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Shama Dalvi                                                                   Gallery

In Auroville, experimentation is the underlying theme and I have been trying different approaches in the construction of a house. My projects (as do those of my colleauges here in Auroville) emphasize the use of alternative building technologies such as compressed earth blocks, ferrocement, waste water recycling , rain water harvesting and so on, in a combination of low cost traditional and vernacular building styles. To me, the usage of these alternative methods of construction hasn't been as challenging as constructing buildings that are also easy to maintain.

Early works included designing and building cost effective housing units which were funded by the Government of India, and working on the details of apartment blocks for the residential zone, using low cost filler slabs, compressed earth block walls & rammed earth foundations. Some of my more recent works are :

House in Madhuca

This large house on stilts, for a Spanish family in Auroville's residential zone, has most of its living space outside . Deep overhangs, large verandas and ample terraces enhance the comfort of living in open spaces in the hot and humid climate of Auroville. The whole first floor rests on a 'beam&slab' construction with a filling of vermiculite+cement. The aim in doing this kind of slab, instead of the conventional reinforced concrete slab, was to cut down on the cost as well as have an alternative style. Even though eventually it was seen that we did not really cut down on the cost, the clients were happy to have tried a differnt type of slab.

House in Discipline

Since the site is silty and water-logged during the monsoons, the decision to have a 'hanging' house above the ground was a good one. The house rests on deep foundations and a column & beam structure which has been raised along with the floor to separate it from having direct contact with a very dynamic silty soil. This house has compact spaces and is one of the first where I built a fireplace - the client was convinced that it would get very cold during the winter! She has yet to use the fireplace since moving into the house, but is very happy about the 'cosy' feeling that the presence of the fireplace gives! The ant channel (a water-filled channel around the house against ants and other crawling creatures), which is a very integral part of Auroville's architecture, has also been raised above the normal ground level so that the soil movement does not affect it.

Administration building in Verite

The most challenging aspect of this project was to be able to fit this building into an already established community with a number of different styled buildings all around. It was decided to emphasise the sloping roofs to make it a binding factor between all the various buildings. The design was kept deliberately simple so as not to take on too much 'attention'-

Shama Dalvi Architects
Auroville 605 101
+ 413 - 2622128


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