Maativan Farmhouse by Blurring Boundaries in Mumbai, India

Project: Maativan Farmhouse
Architects: Blurring Boundaries
Mumbai, India
Area: 6.000 sf
Year: 2023
Photographs by:
Inclined Studio

Maativan Farmhouse by Blurring Boundaries

Maativan, a natural building sanctuary in Wada, India, seamlessly integrates with its forest surroundings, emphasizing environmental consciousness. The farmhouse, surrounded by reserved forest, showcases a commitment to biophilic design, passive climatology principles, and eco-friendly construction. The L-shaped structure, embracing existing trees, exemplifies thoughtful planning and biophilic architecture. Earthy colors, recycled elements, and vibrant hues create playful interiors.

The climatology-driven design ensures natural light, ventilation, and energy-efficient cooling. Maativan’s sustainability extends to natural materials, traditional techniques, and a recycling ethos, employing local labor and artisans. The material palette, locally sourced and low embodied energy, reflects a deep connection to local traditions. The structure, powered by solar technology, embraces water and waste management practices, showcasing a holistic commitment to sustainability, cultural authenticity, and conscientious architectural evolution.

Maativan signifies a natural building sanctuary made of mud amidst the forest’s embrace. The natural farmhouse nestled on the fringes of Wada’s reserved forest area near Mumbai in India stands as a testament to dedication to environmental consciousness through the integration of material palette, biophilic design, passive design climatology principles, and construction technology. Maativan exhibits the integration of nature within the building envelope in the thoughtful planning of spaces around existing trees, preserving existing natural vegetation. The design follows biophilic architecture design principles. Shapes were influenced by organic forms found in nature and the ephemeral quality of natural light. The intention was to create an immersive, atmospheric experience that inspires a feeling of being in a forest in a lush outdoor space under an overgrown natural canopy. Organic forms merging with surroundings take clues from the works and philosophy of architects Nari Gandhi and Javier Senosiain.

Situated on a permaculture-inspired agro-tourism getaway at the boundary of the Tansa reserved forests of Wada, Maativan’s design revolves around existing trees with organic and curved walls. The building sits low and blends seamlessly in the forest area, epitomizing a seamless integration with the surrounding environment. Upon entering Maativan, the journey commences in an open courtyard bathed in natural light amidst a dance of stones, guiding passages that seamlessly lead to the interconnected realms of living and dining. The use of earthy colors creates a playful vibe, contrasting the greens. This spatial poetry unfolds within the confines of four bedrooms, courtyards, and communal areas. Each designated space becomes a canvas for the celebration of distinct natural materials, with recycled elements such as wheels and glass bottles imparting an artistic resonance to the environment.  The interplay of light and shadow adds an ethereal quality to the atmosphere. The four bedrooms are each oriented for privacy and openness towards the forest side.  The passages unveil themselves, guiding inhabitants to the bedrooms strategically positioned at the forest’s edge, offering captivating views of the reserved expanse. The washrooms are designed with or overlooking open courts, using an overgrown natural landscape as the barrier to the outside world. Infused with vibrant hues, these spaces resonate with the play of natural light, infusing the architectural narrative with a harmonious and serene vibe.

Maativan’s climatology-driven design ensures natural light and ventilation, creating a comfortable built environment. Mud walls strategically placed towards the south reduce heat gain, while the roof’s northward slope minimizes exposure to the south, preserving the surrounding ecology. The courtyards around the existing trees within the built spaces and passages play a vital role in creating a naturally lit and well-ventilated space. The strategic positioning of openings harnesses prevailing cross-ventilation patterns, along with a low-energy mechanical ventilation technology derived from local playhouse farm practices. A low-energy cooling system, which pulls in cooled air via wet cellulose pads with the help of an exhaust, has been planned in all living spaces. This cools the ambient temperature within the spaces.

Maativan’s commitment to sustainability extends to the reliance on natural materials and the use of traditional techniques, avoiding energy-intensive manufacturing processes. This conscious material selection aligns with environmental principles and offers effective insulation, ensuring comfort irrespective of seasonal variations. The structure, consisting of mud walls, stone walls, bamboo and wood roofs, lime plasters, and the use of recycled materials, reflects a deep connection to local traditions and a commitment to minimizing environmental impact. Local labor and artisans, along with vernacular ancient Indian construction techniques, were employed in construction, further enriching the project with a sense of cultural authenticity. A conscientious approach to recycling permeates the architectural ethos, ingeniously incorporating discarded tires, glass bottles, waste reinforcement, waste glass, and terracotta into the framework. Using principles of recycling, reusing, and upcycling not only minimizes waste but transforms it into integral, artistic, and functional components.

The material palette of this natural building is a curation of locally sourced materials and low embodied energy natural building materials. Wood, soil, and stone, locally harvested from the site, form the structural building elements. Wood and structural bamboo is used for the main structural members and roof. Cob walls with locally available additives and basalt stone random rubble walls are used for the load-bearing walls. The cob walls are composed of a meticulously composed blend featuring soil, rice husk, hirda (myrobalan seeds) water, neem water, and starch water. Kota stone has been used to create dancing patterns in the partitions between spaces, allowing for visual or physical separations as per the spatial requirements. Lime plaster with lime, fly ash, Turki (burnt brick powder), sand, and linseed oil with the colored stainers imbibe the space with a bright color palette. The flooring is the long-used traditional IPS flooring with unique colored pigments.  Locally sourced bamboo with mud and lime was used to build furniture in this uniquely curved structure using the wattle and daub technique.

The fusion of this material palette not only augments the structural integrity of the walls but also contributes significantly to fostering a healthier indoor environment, aligning with contemporary sustainability principles. Through the astute amalgamation of indigenous materials, avant-garde recycling methodologies, and the judicious application of region-specific vernacular construction techniques, Maativan emerges as a modern example of contemporary sustainable construction, resonating with the ethos of conscientious architectural evolution. The structure is integrated with passive energy conservation design techniques along with active water management, solid waste management, and solar technologies.

The waste basin, bath, and kitchen water are diverted into local landscaped areas. The solid waste is taken to a central pit layered with 9” soil sandwiched between two layers of broken clay tiles to help break down the solid waste with the help of organic decomposers. The kitchen waste is put into composting pits for the local herb and vegetable garden. The structure is mostly powered by solar panels, inverters, and battery systems since the energy requirement for the structure and equipment is not intensive. Maativan’s sustainable and contextually responsive biophilic design transcends architectural boundaries, embodying a harmonious blend of innovation, cultural sensitivity, and environmental stewardship.

Blurring Boundaries


Tags: Blurring Boundaries, exterior, India, interior, lush, modern, mumbai

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