Forest Spirit Learning - A Greener Future
The term sustainability was defined by the United Nations Brundtland Commission as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future.’ Sustainable architecture, also known as green architecture or eco-friendly architecture, aims to create a future that deviates from the high consumption and waste patterns of the past. Instead, it seeks to establish a future that is sufficient, regenerative, and efficient.
The primary objective of sustainable architecture is to employ intelligent designs and utilize available technologies to minimize the adverse impact of structures on the ecosystem and communities. By prioritizing environmentally friendly practices, sustainable architecture strives to ensure that buildings contribute minimally to environmental degradation while promoting long-term ecological and societal well-being.
Sustainable Architecture and Indian Tradition:
Indian architecture seamlessly blends modern eco-conscious practices with the rich heritage and age-old traditions of the country. In India’s architectural history, our ancestors crafted homes and structures using local materials like clay, bamboo, and straw bales, incorporating the technology available during their time. We can adopt these traditional methods and natural materials today, infusing them with modern advancements to reduce environmental impact.
Additionally, traditional building techniques such as courtyard planning, natural ventilation systems, and intricate jali work not only contribute to aesthetic charm but also improve energy efficiency. It is essential to establish a strong connection between past, present, and future building traditions, utilizing existing traditional knowledge and incorporating innovations. This approach should consider social relevance, economic impact, and culturally rooted aesthetics to create sustainable and meaningful architectural solutions.
Some innovations in sustainable architecture:
Numerous individuals, groups, and organizations are actively contributing to the advancement of sustainable architecture. An exemplary instance is the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, where the unique use of local sandstone in its architecture maintains temperatures 20–30 degrees (Farenheit) cooler than the surrounding outdoors.
Designed by New York-based architect Dianna Kellogg, the school has garnered recognition for its distinctive design that champions sustainability and innovation. In 2020, it was honored with the prestigious title of Building of the Year by Architectural Digest India, underscoring its commitment to blending traditional architectural elements with modern design principles.
Another noteworthy sustainable architecture project is underway in Shikohpur village, Haryana, exemplifying a broader movement towards environmentally conscious and forward-thinking construction practices.
Jyoti Raghavan Khanduja, Founder at Forest Spirit Learning, reflects that “In my journey as a Mother, and later, as a Forest campaigner, I saw a huge gap between what was being taught at schools, and what the Children really needed to learn.
Children are inherently, deeply connected to Nature. We snap that connect with our conditioning.
Also, the youngsters of today are not properly equipped to tackle the impending future of food, waste, water and labor crises.
My mission is to rebuild that lost connection and bridge the gap between the present and the future. The vision is to equip every child with skills that they must have, in order to deal with the upcoming shortages.
Also, teaching them compassion towards all.
Unless they connect, they will not protect.”
The project is being executed mainly by the team from The Crashpad, Mangar. Having created their own set up to facilitate climbing enthusiasts, and having done many sustainability-themed installations and art festivals, the team gained their expertise in sustainable architecture along the way. They are now fairly adept at building vernacular structures.
A beautiful experience:
Embarking on the journey of sustainable architecture was a revelation, seamlessly blending my passion with a profound sense of purpose. The beauty of this approach extended beyond its eco-conscious principles, resonating with a multifaceted impact. Beyond the inherent cost-effectiveness that defined every design element, the experience unfolded as a transformative odyssey on a deeper level. Each hour immersed in the process felt like a therapeutic journey, where crafting spaces in harmony with nature became a meditative art form. Observing the synergy of locally sourced materials and innovative design strategies converging into structures that were both functional and visually enchanting was genuinely awe-inspiring. It wasn’t merely a profession; it evolved into an intimate dance between creativity and sustainability, leaving an indelible mark on both the environment and my personal perspective.
The government’s role towards sustainability:
The government plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable architecture for a greener future. This involves creating strong policies that require and reward eco-friendly building practices. By setting strict rules and providing incentives for using environmentally friendly materials and techniques, governments encourage a significant shift towards sustainability in architecture. Additionally, when governments initiate large projects that demonstrate sustainable infrastructure, it not only proves the feasibility of such designs but also encourages their adoption in different sectors. Supporting environmental entrepreneurship through funding, training, and other initiatives empowers individuals and organizations to innovate in sustainable architecture, creating a lively ecosystem of green solutions. Overall, governments not only shape the architectural landscape but also foster a mindset that values sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Sustainable future and vision:
The implications of sustainable architecture extend far into the future, promising substantial benefits, especially in areas prone to earthquakes and grappling with resource scarcity. In earthquake-prone regions, the emphasis on sustainable architectural practices translates to resilient structures that can withstand seismic activity, minimizing damage and ensuring the safety of inhabitants. Through innovative design approaches such as flexible and lightweight materials, as well as adaptable building techniques, sustainable architecture offers a shield against the devastating impact of earthquakes. Moreover, in regions facing resource scarcity, sustainable architecture’s focus on efficient utilization and reliance on renewable resources becomes a lifeline. By prioritizing locally sourced materials, implementing smart designs that optimize resource usage, and integrating renewable energy solutions, sustainable architecture becomes a beacon of hope, offering a blueprint for a future where communities thrive despite resource limitations. This ethos not only fosters resilience but also paves the way for a vibrant future where environmentally conscious practices are the norm, fostering a harmonious coexistence between human habitats and the planet.
About the Author
Name: Ranjana Vishnoi
She is from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Currently she is pursuing B A honours Political Science from Hindu College, University of Delhi.