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Chitra Vishwanath Architect

March 27, 2009

Women we love
Nirmala Ravindran
February 27, 2009

CHITRA VISHWANATH

chitra
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.”

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19 comments

  1. Hi! My name is Srinivas M N and i am constructing a New house on my 45’x 55′ site. I would like to get inputs and also would like to understand the possibilities of building it in the best eco friendly way as far as possible. Would like to understand and also clarify a few doubts i have. kindly respond to this mail with details about the charges for consultancy if any.


  2. Hi Chitra,

    Loved reading about you in one of the blogs. I and my wife are eagerly looking forward to returning home to B’lore after a long long stay in US. We are going to build a house just as soon as we land there. We were recently told that the sub-division we have a site in will not give us the water for the construction and that we would have to hire water tankers. Guess that is the new state of affairs in B’lore. We would be building a basement and I read somewhere that you have designed basements in Bangalore. Also, rain water harvesting together with Solar electricity are on the top of our minds. Your input and advice will go a long way in allaying our fears regarding the sheer logistics that awaits us.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thanks
    Vish


    • Dear Vishwanath,
      Am replying to you from the mail id.
      Regards,
      Chitra


  3. Dear Madam,
    I introduce myself dealing with promotion and developing activities in the name style S.K.LANDSCAP from MADURAI tamilnadu.
    I am very much interested in eco buildings and products ,I am verymuch inspired your words that “Eco-friendlyness connot be a fashion statement, it has to be a way of life”.
    We have an idea to promote an eco friendly community area with minimum houses as pilot project ,if you are interested pls confirm then we will discuss ..
    Raegards
    S.Yegambaram


  4. Hi Chitra:)
    Very happy to learn that you are doing such good work. I am in the process of acquiring land and building a meditation retreat in chikkamagalur. Will contact you for this. please send me your mobile number to my email id and we can discuss this further.

    best regards
    pradeep ullal


    • Dear Mr.Ullal,
      You had called me up couple of days back mentioning about this project.
      Could you please let me know the dates once again as to when you will be in Chikamagalur?
      Regards,
      Chitra


  5. hello Chitra madam,

    thanks to internet and esp google bcoz they introduced about you and your work to me.

    I want to build a 1500 sft 3 bed room home at tirupathi,andhrapradesh soon.

    eco-friendlly,budget house with rain water harvesting and solar electricity is what i want in my house.

    I am very much inspired by your words “Eco-friendlyness connot be a fashion statement, it has to be a way of life”.

    i need your consultancy and design help to build my dream green home.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you very much

    srinivasarao.g


  6. dear chitra madam – through google i came to know aboout you and your green way of living philosophy.

    i am planning to build 1500 sft 3 bedroom with a small pooja room home which is Environmentally-sound,cost-effective green home with 1500sft vegetable and flower garden at my 100/60-6000 sft plot in tirupathi,andhrapradesh with your advice and suggestions.

    i am inspired by your Eco-friendliness cannot be a fashion statement, It has to be a way of life.

    i need your consultancy service.

    i will call and meet you soon at bangalore.

    thank you.

    sincerelly

    srinivasrao.g


  7. I am willing to start construction on 30×40 plot. I would like to know the feasibility and plans from your experience.


  8. hello chitra mam,

    I want to build a house in bangalore in ramakrishna hegde nagar. our site is litlle small i.e 22ftx45ft. I hate too many walls and partitions inside the house. I want to bulid a duplex house., with lot of space inside and with all eco friendly materials with less cost of construction. I love earthy colours and smell of natural soil and mud. Can u help me out


  9. Hi Chitra Vishwanath
    Can you pass on your email id
    Thnx


  10. dear mam my company panning to build a eco resort where v r planning to make eco homes.so i like ur concept of mud bricks.I want to know the longevity of this type of home and average cost of constructing each home on per square feet basis.
    waiting for ur positive reply


  11. Learn’t about mud houses from an article in new daily ‘The Economic Times’ on Lt Laurie Baker and sketches of his buildings, twenty years back and became very exited and interested in it. When in Delhi got in touch with Sri Padam Kumar at the address mentioned in the article who was very kind enough to give me two booklets which contained details on mud house building as propagated by Lt Laurie Baker published by CAPART. Saw a future in low cost and eco friendly buildings for the multitude wanting to have a loving house at low cost. Tried to contact CAPART but got no reply. However, after that could do much in the direction. Few years back decided to build a house and engaged an architect from Jaipur and also mentioned to him about my interest in mud houses. He gave me your name and also the address of your website. Other things got prioritised. Again saw an article on mud houses and other work on conservation done by you in The Economic Times of 28th July 2012 and opened the site.

    You are doing an excellent work, the need of the time, but people require convincing. It required a foreigner to teach us the value of our own work. We always look up at the West and love to ape them and again plead at them for appreciation and acceptance. They take our age old technology and wrap it in beautiful packages charging the sky which we gleefully take — e.g organic farming. Shall we, slaves for 1000 years ever learn.

    i wish I could build a mud house, the land where I proposed to build has become litigated.

    We have another proposal of a big area for commercial and residential flats but then you will have to guide me. Can mutlistoried buildings be made of mud. However, the technologies of water harvest, ground water recharging, solar/wind energy, garbage/waste management can to harnessed.

    With kind regards.


    • Have not been receiving an mails since few years. Look forward to them always. Pls resume.
      My youngest daughter is doing a course in interior designing from J.D. Birla Institute, Kolkata, would love her to work under your tutelage.

      Regards

      Sushil Kumar Saraf


  12. Mam, i’m student of architecture (2nd. year)….I really like your project….I’m inspired from it….!!!


  13. Dear chitra,

    love d way u build d houses. can u help us.
    mahalakshmi


  14. Dear Ma’am,

    Very happy to learn that you are doing such a wonderful work. I am in the process of building a nature friendly resort in wayanad. If you have time and help us a way forward, I would like to know more details about it.

    Hope to hear from you.

    Girish Subramanian.



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