The site was right on the beach at Devgad with the beach house barely 100 meters from the high tide line. This house was used as a retreat as well as my workplace for designing. Spontaneous simplicity and empathy with the surroundings were important form generators.
Bungalow - second home
Ground + Mezaanine
120 (including porch, verandah & mezzanine) m²
Full house - 120 m²
Human comfort standards
275000 (including interiors, cupboards furnishing etc.
Shirish Beri & Associates
Work executed departmentally
Local carpenters and Shirish Beri
Ar. Shirish Beri’s architectural works, which tend to reflect his values in life, have dealt with this issue of a sustainable environment since 1975. They strive to address his life concerns of man moving further away from nature, from his fellow human beings and from his own self.
“Perspective” – a reputed design magazine from Honk Kong wrote in May 2009 “Shirish Beri was designing buildings in harmony with man and the environment long before green became fashionable.”
He has been addressing the environmental and sustainability issues through his designs by respecting the site context, using local and recycled materials (reducing the embodied energy), by availing natural light and ventilation (less dependence on energy for artificial lighting and ventilation), use of solar energy, recycling of sewage wastes, abundant tree plantation, designing multiple use spaces (less exploitation of resources) and designing with Nature with an overall simplicity. He has tried to avoid the use of very expensive, non renewable, imported materials.
He also tried an experiment in self sufficiency on a five acre land at Nadhawade in Konkan. He lived a very simple life there for almost 25 years by attempting the creation of a balanced eco system by efficiently recycling the various bio chemical resources there. This was a great lesson for him.
Greed, consumerism, commodification and then exploitation of nature have always been of great concern to him. Thus, he has been talking about the importance of sustainable values and attitudes like caring and sharing, compassion and concern, equity, restraint and simplicity at various forums in India and abroad for the past three decades. He illustrates how one can design in close harmony with nature and with our fellow human beings for a better quality of life.
He has tried to follow these attitudes of compassion, caring, equity and simplicity in his own life and in his dwelling design. His new house built mainly from recycled, scrap materials also tries to be as self-sufficient as possible with energy, water and vegetables. He has planted thousands of trees on his own properties and also on his many projects.
With these attitudes, he has designed a number of campuses for national & regional level institutions for research, rehabilitation, health care and education, along with various other types of buildings. They have won him a number of national – international recognitions, publications and awards.
His film “The unfolding white” won an international jury award at a sustainable development films’ festival in Europe.
He has been invited to chair and give talks, slide shows and conduct design workshops in various professional and educational institutions and in national / international seminars in India and abroad.
Two exhibitions and a book on his work ("Spaces inspired by nature"), that spread his message of living in harmony with the environment, have been received very well everywhere.
Devgad has the typical seashore climate – temperate, warm & humid. The rain fall of approximately 3000 to 3500 mm is concentrated during the four months of the monsoon. All the remaining eight months are dry – pleasantly cool in winter and sweatily warm in summer. The maximum temperature of Devgad is around 36 degree C and the coldest is 14 degree C. The winds are very strong during the storms – mainly during the rains.
The idea of having a beach house germinated in my fascination with the sea and in my faith in Nature's healing, refreshing and rejuvenating potential.
Along with physical stimulation that the sea offers in the form of swimming, jogging on the beach, playing in the sand, etc., the beach house offered a peaceful natural environment with the soothing sound and sight of the waves breaking on the shore. The view of the sea from most spaces was also an important consideration. Even the kitchen also has the view of the sea on the west and of the property gate on the North.
I felt the need to get away from the busy routine of our architectural office to a place like this for the concentrated, undisturbed creative design process to happen. Thus my own basic architectural work happened here.
The house fosters a dynamically balanced and harmonious relationship with nature – with a highly responsive relationship to site.
- The choice of site on raised ground affords better views of the lovely sea from most areas in the house.
- This also allows segregation of activities - the bath + toilet + change area at lower level with direct access from the beach and the studio above this.
- Including of the existing trees as part of the design vocabulary. Two of the three cashurinas create the eco-friendly entrance portal to the house.
- The undal tree forms a vista from the porch whereas other major frees are framed as views from different windows.
- Creation of a special seating area near the edge of the property on beach brings the sea closer.
- Merging of the built periphery with the natural one.
Thus the house acquires an organic quality of belonging to the site rather than of being force dumped there.
The design of this beach house stems from a basic simplicity of life style and from its symbiotic relationship with Nature. It does not appear to be force dumped there, but appears to grow on the site - to belong to the site.
The house is basically one single unified space under one roof. Different functions are differentiated by low partition walls, curtains, different levels, etc., but the essential flow of space continues uninterrupted merging with the surrounding nature.
The living room space flows into a covered verandah sit out on the west, which further extends down into two levels of the lawns - then into the coconut grove.
Taking advantage of the undulating site conditions, the following was achieved:
- a raised plinth for a better view for the main living and kitchen area.
- a segregation at slightly lower level for service areas like porch, utility & servants room.
- a mezzanine floor studio-bed at 1.1 M above the main level with better view as well as privacy.
- a changing area with bathroom & W.C. below the mezzanine floor with a direct access from the beach after a swim (this prevents the wetness and sand from spreading all over the house.
Beautiful natural light flows into the home at all times. Areas which do not have adequate windows (like the central passage) derive natural light from above – through glass mangalore tiles.
A narrow traditional existing well on site provides water for all purpose including the garden. The sloping roof also channelizes some rain water into the wall.
It creates an environment or space that relates and positively responds to the local climate factors.
- The humid temperate climate calls for maximum air circulation in the house which is achieved through windows, louvered doors, slits and gap between roof and wall and through proper orientation.
- The west façade has a deep verandah and bracketed chajjahs.
- The north and east entrance area welcomes the morning sun.
- The porous laterite stones have an insulting quality.
- The mud + cowdung floors stays cool in summer and warm in winter.
- The newly planted cashurians and coconuts creates privacy as well as a wind break from the stormy sea.
Use of local, traditional and recycled material as well as the use of local labour helped in cost saving. Multiple use of the living space as dining and bed if necessary saved the cost of constructing a new dining room and bed room. The mezzanine space doubles as sleeping and work space.
The construction cost of Rs. 2300 per sqm even by 1994 standards was quite low.
- Simple load bearing construction in laterite stone masonry.
- The roof has jungle wood framework with clay tiles manufactured nearer than Mangalore.
- Most of the flooring is consolidated mud + murum & with cowdung plaster.
- The studio mezzanine has jungle wood planks as floor. Timber planks for lintels above doors and windows.
- Simple eco-friendly technology known for generations was used to create this sustainable architecture.
It saves valuable space and resources by the creation of spaces and furniture which are multipurpose at different times of the day.
- For example, the living space can be quickly converted to dining and further into sleeping space because of the simple modular cushions.
- The same flexibility works for the studio space.
- The service window platform doubles as a dining table.
- The flower bed walls and pillar bases become informal seating.
- Greater the utilization factor - greater is the ecofriendlyness and sustainability, as tremendous saving of building resources takes place.
It uses the recycled resources well.
- Most of the structural wooden rafters were bought from an old shed.
- The balcony balustrades are from old demolished building.
- All sullage drain water is used for gardening.
- All organic matter is converted to compact and dried twigs, branches are used to heat the boiler.
- The carpets are made from cotton waste.
- Solar energy is used for cooking.
Local laterite stone load bearing masonry - as it is strong and is readily available in the vicinity.
Laterite masonry - as it is strong and is readily available in the vicinity; as it has good insulation quality: much less cement is required for the masonry due to its big size; it is a beautiful natural material; can be easily chased, dressed to the desired shape.
Wood - teak, jackfruit, shisum - as they are locally available and are easy to work with for the local labour.
Rammed murum (earth) with cowdung plaster - as it has a good soft feel and it stays warm in winter and cool in summer. Jungle wood planks for mezzanine - because of their looks and warmth. Ceramic tiles for toilets - for easy maintenance, washing etc.
Flush pointing with white wash from inside and sunk pointing on exposed laterite from outside
Mangalore tiles on wood battens, recycled rafters and structure - as they are readily available, waterproof, insulating and known to the local labour.
CFL & Tube
2 of 1200 dia
Monitored by our human conscience
Not very prevalent then.
They would be less efficient due to the shade of the existing trees.
The most important factors in a project like this are the user's and designer's basic attitude and approaches to life.
The more holistic and unified the attitudes, the more integrated the development. Here every function or object is not seen in isolation, but as an integral part of a totality.
The more contented and peaceful the mind, lesser the craving for the multiplicity of consumer goods. This simplicity of life style goes hand in hand with sustainability.
We as occupants feel happy to live in a house built from natural materials, is naturally responsive to the bio climatic factors and the existing site features with minimum consumption of external energy. This house is comfortable and joyous with its spontaneous simplicity. Learning that a good life is not dependent on the number of goods we have.
It advocates a simple unified eco-friendly way of life where there is no over indulgence and where the land, trees, the habitat are not merely buyable/sellable commodities but something more sacrosanct and an integral part of one's spatio temporal make up.