Chitra Vishwanath ArchitectMarch 27, 2009
Women we love
February 27, 2009
Architect Chitra Vishwanath, would rather show you her work than talk about it. Environmentally-sound and cost-effective are the key words that describe her work.
A pioneer in the field long before these phrases became fashionable, her own house stands on 1500 sq ft of land on the outskirts of Bangalore as a model of her beliefs. Her home does not use air conditioning, or even fans, the walls are unplastered and made of mud bricks created on the site.
Chitra Vishwanath built a home that is environmentally sound and cost-effective—with no ACs, no fans and unplastered walls made of mud bricks. Built on various levels, it has a 1,000 sq ft vegetable garden.
With a multitude of skylights and open passages, the airy house is the perfect example of energy conservation. “We’ve done a lot of things to our home—things we cannot do in a client’s house. It’s nice to be able to show the possibilities.”
Eco-friendliness cannot be a fashion statement, she believes. It has to be a way of life. Along with her husband, Vishwanath, who is a civil engineer and rainwater harvesting expert, Chitra has created much-lauded homes and buildings across the country. Putting the money where their mouth is, the Vishwanaths have constantly worked at their home, making it a laboratory of change, and ensuring that the aesthetics are in place.
The composite pit in the compound handles the organic waste and garbage from the house. Solar panels to heat water, water harvesting takes care of more than 70 per cent of the water requirements of the house and Chitra uses solar cookers to make her rice and dal.
In addition, she says, “We have a toilet that separates the solid and liquid matter, and the water can be recycled into the ground.” Chitra has ensured that most, if not all, of their needs are met by optimum utilisation.
But nothing prepares you for the surprise of seeing vegetables and rice being grown on the terrace, proving that a little thought and ideology can work wonders. “It’s not a project that we can finish. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our own thinking and ideas and hopefully help in the larger plan of conservation.”