Earth Building: Elevating Sustainable Living through Earthbag Houses

CEO Khai Intela
Gone are the days when a house was constructed with bricks and cement, with symmetrical four walls. Today, there is a deep fondness for creating healthy spaces that not only connect us to nature but...

Architects Stanzin Phuntsog

Gone are the days when a house was constructed with bricks and cement, with symmetrical four walls. Today, there is a deep fondness for creating healthy spaces that not only connect us to nature but also benefit the environment. This passion has brought together two like-minded young talents, architect Stanzin Phuntsog from Ayee Village in Ladakh’s Nubra Valley and architect Samyuktha S from Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore. Their goal is to bring about a drastic change in the ecological structure of Indian architecture using their knowledge and expertise. Here is an insight into their journey and their project, Earth Building.

Divided by distance, united by mud

With a shared love for traditional methods of architecture, Phuntsog and Samyuktha met at Swaraj University in Udaipur. They both had a deep appreciation for working with mud and creating sustainable and unconventional structures. Inspired by Phuntsog's village, where the entire community comes together to build homes, they ideated on building a house made of earthbags in Coimbatore for Samyuktha's family.

Love for nature, a quest into being hands-on and an interest towards building lead Stanzin Phuntsog and Samyuktha S to form the Earth Building.

A successful homecoming

Phuntsog and Samyuktha took up the challenge of building a space beyond the four walls through Earth Building. Their motto is to keep designs eco-friendly, aesthetic, functional, unusual, and thermally comfortable. The first project for Earth Building was Samyuktha's house in Coimbatore. Unlike traditional brick and cement houses, Samyuktha's house is based on the design concept of earthbag construction. This technique uses local soil to create strong and quickly built structures. The construction materials are simple, including sturdy sacks filled with natural and organic materials.

As part of the amphitheatre, two Earthbag Dome houses have been constructed which operate as dressing rooms.

Batting a home run at SECMOL: Earthbag Dome project

The success of their first project opened new doors for Phuntsog and Samyuktha. Phuntsog's association with the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) allowed Earth Building to recreate the Earthbag Dome project for the students of the Himalayan Institute for Alternatives (HIAL) and SECMOL in Ladakh. The Earthbag Dome project is a sustainable construction technique that is economical and ideal for low rainfall areas. The structure is made of earthbags, filled with mud, and held together by barbed wires. The dome acts as a load-bearing element for windows, and the architects have kept the raw and natural appearance of the house by using mud and lime plaster.

While the floor is created traditionally out of mud, earthbag arches are erected for windows.

Sustainably growing

Phuntsog and Samyuktha heavily rely on local soil and materials for their projects. They believe in reclaiming ancestral knowledge of building and reintroducing it in their designs. Their vision is to create a sustainable community by exploring various natural building techniques. Their journey has led them to experiment with stone, masonry, cob, adobe, and many more. Their thirst for adventure and sound designing keeps them inspired to create natural homes that can stand the test of time.

Wooden rafters made of poplar hold the roof of the house while planks are sourced for eaves.

Project details

  • Project name: Earthbag Dome
  • Location: Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh
  • Area: Two domes of 125 sq ft each
  • Principal architects: Stanzin Punchok and Samyuktha S
  • Design team: Earth Building
  • Website: www.earthbuilding.in

Materials

  • Flooring: Mud floor
  • Walls: Earthbag
  • Ceiling: Dome

About the firm

Founded by Stanzin Phuntsog and Samyuktha, Earth Building is an endeavor that aims to reintroduce natural building as a method of construction. Their designs focus on being eco-friendly, aesthetic, functional, unusual, and thermally comfortable. They draw inspiration from traditional techniques and aspire to develop sustainable architecture throughout the nation.

Architects Stanzin Phuntsog and Samyuktha S

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