Project Description

This residential building is the result of extensive research and experimentation in three main areas; eco-friendly building materials and technology alternatives to the current building trends, energy efficiency and climate responsive building language. Further the quest was aimed at replicability in urban as well as rural areas. This exploration led beyond the building itself to include also eco-friendly infrastructure in the management of water, waste and energy aspects. GIS Coordinates: 12.02,79.84 Client Name: Maggie Project website: http://castelinomarchese.com/portfolio/growing-towards-pillaichavady-pondicherry-20046/

Growing towards crop 3
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Building Details

Single detached residence

New building project

120 m²


110 + 35 (verandah and patio) m²

85 m²

85 m²

INR Rs. 35,00,000

INR Rs. 20,000



Project Team

C&M Architects and Associates



Sheril Castelino

Graduated in architecture from K.R.V.I.A. in 1997, Bombay. Studied Italian Cinema & Literature in Perugia, Italy, 2000. Commendation Award for State Architect of the Year 2008 (for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry) Professional Experience - -Independent practice in Architecture and Design Consultancy 2001-present. -Part of the innovative Urban Planning team for Auroville’s Future – Centre for Urban research & assisted Auroville’s chief architect Roger Anger 2001-2006. -Worked with Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti, Arizona, USA, 2003 -Member of Auroville Industrial Zone Group 2002-2006 -Member of Auroville Planning Group 2003-2006 -Member of Auroville Planning & Development Council 2004-2005

Pino Marchese

Graduated in architecture from University of Florence in 1990. Practised Pottery at “Antica Fornace Di Bacchereto’ in Vinci-Tuscany, 1982-84. Professional Experience Worked in studios of architecture in South Italy and Florence doing projects for housing, commercial and public buildings. 1990-1998 Independent Practice in India, 1998-present, including innovative urban planning, sustainable architecture, landscape, interiors, product design and photography. Part of team in Auroville’s Future – Town Planning & Centre for Urban Research, 1998-2005 Worked in close association with Auroville’s chief architect Roger Anger on various planning and architectural projects. 1998-2007. Coordinator of Architecture and Urban design, L’avenir d’Auroville, 2007-2009 Nature of work Innovative Urban Planning Sustainable Architecture Landscaping Interior &Product design Photography Internships offered to students in architecture related design fields Set up Photography Archive Bank of over 50000 pictures on all areas of interest on Auroville 1968-present & partly on India Pino in WEB Pino Marhese – architect, Auroville Pino Marchese – Gallery Pino Marchese: Italia Art Fest U.S. Pavilion at Auroville – Photo: Pino Marchese Photographer in Pino The Hindu: Auroville… a deeper experience The Hindu: The Indian connection Because Thou Art: People and the architecture

Climate Analysis

Looked at the position of the breeze (North East to South West), oriented the building to get maximum ventilation. Used dome between two units that keeps the heat outside, keeping the high temperature and humidity in mind. The dome allows the interior to remain cool and fresh.

Design Approach

Two units were designed keeping in mind brief received from the client where they wanted a natural space as living area and two separate spaces for day and night times respectively. Thus the kitchen area was designed on one side of the natural open space, which is the living room, and the bedrooms were designed on the other side.

Our approach to designing the house was such that we don't cut any natural vegetation but design the building in a way that it integrates nature. We also planted more trees to keep the air surrounding the house cool.

Linear in plan, the house is oriented to the south-east for optimum air circulation. The house is organised within a single rectangular block with the various activities arranged in a row & a long vaulted space contained perpendicularly within the brick masonry. They are placed such that each activity can spill over on the north east side in the form of the large verandah that runs along the entire length of the house.This way the design of the house ensures that the activities are cocooned into private secure spaces, while the spill over in the living areas are large and open to the nature. The house is simple with clearly defined lines and masses, yet the play in the volumes is such that it becomes hard to distinguish where the inside ends and outside begins.
Site plan


Special Feature

Used large aluminium powder coated framed windows for natural lighting, keeping sun direction in mind.

Hollow tubes in catenary vaults ensure insulation from heat. Openings in the building are aligned for predominant south-east wind. Water bodies used to naturally cool the house.

For the vault construction, neither shuttering nor de-moulding is required. Only a frame is required on either side to guide the catenary curve. It is also fast and modular, as the units can be produced in advance and need to simply be assembled. The texture of the roof tiles give the interiors a natural feeling as compared to the standard flat plastered ceiling.

On-site produced terracotta is used for the roof and without any supporting wooden rafters as a substructure, as wood is no longer abundantly or affordably available. Using terracotta also saves on a lot of energy as compared to RCC. Transportation energy was reduced as bullock carts sufficed

Local potters can be given employment , benefiting the economy of the local area.

Building Material

Cement used for domes and pillars

compressed bricks

The exposed brick facades are scaled down due to the use of local ancient brick proportions, 18cm x 10cm x 2.5 cms. The use of these achikal bricks are revived and are set in lime mortar with raked joints. 10% of cement addition in the lime mortar allowed for initial setting strength. The walls are of 30, 20 or 10 cm thickness with specially designed bonds as they don’t follow the 1:2 proportion.

doors- kalimero wood windows - aluminium powder coated

cement floor with different colored pattern, with aluminium stripes inserted for design

The walls are kept exposed. High energy finishing materials viz: plasters, paints and ceramic tiles are avoided as far as possible. Forthe roof, the external surface is plastered and waterproofed, including a layer of chicken mesh to prevent cracks and leaks

Catenary vaults using hollow clay tubes have been used for climatic insulation as well as to reduce the unnecessary use of steel in pucca roofs. The flat terraced roof has been built using hollow burnt clay trapezoidal extruded modules over part pre-cast beams as in a jack arch, that were specially manufactured onsite for the purpose of finding insulated roofing solutions to flat roofs as well as providing employment for the local artisans.

Energy systems

Only energy efficient lighting at the times was CFLs which was used for interior lighting

minimal exterior lighting. CFLs used in garden.

One in each bedroom and one in kitchen area



The house is fully run on solar photovoltaics, and has solar water heater and solar pump.

Lessons Learned

An initial investment in eco friendly materials is required, but it pays off in the long run as it proves to be environmentally friendly and economincal financially

The occupants are very happy with the house, there has not been any problem in management or structure of the building. The design suits their needs very well and they have expressed satisfaction.