Let’s explore an interaction where Rahul Kadri, the Principal Architect & Partner at IMK Architects, explores producing structures using an environmentally sustainable method while preserving the design’s attractiveness.
What is your underlying philosophy regarding incorporating sustainability into your designs, particularly in the context of green buildings?
Sustainable design encompasses the entire building lifecycle, emphasising a process that integrates with the local ecosystem. For green buildings, this begins with strategic site placement, considering natural processes like water flow and plant growth. Design should prioritise existing trees or incorporate native vegetation to attract local biodiversity. Soil health improvement, reduced irrigation, and microclimate comfort strategies are essential. Maximising natural light and ventilation through passive solar design is crucial for environmentally friendly construction.
Can you highlight a specific green building project you’ve been involved in? What were the key sustainable features, and how did they contribute to the overall environmental performance of the building?
Arunyam, a 95-acre second home development by IMK Architects in Kondiwade, an hour from Pune, features villas blending rustic aesthetics with urban conveniences. With five configurations ranging from 2,600 to 4,000 sq. ft., these villas are strategically planned along natural slopes, minimising cut-and-fill. Rooftop gardens, private pools, and Jacuzzis are among the varied features. Solar-powered clubhouses and villas follow climate-responsive design principles. The exterior boasts exposed brick walls, rooftop gardens, and glass facades. The eco-conscious project includes wooden chalets, fabric tents for camping, and activities like boating. The Miyawaki method of plantations emphasises native species, creating a forest ambience with over sixty breeds. A 650-meter forest trail offers an immersive walk, and steeper slopes feature indigenous fruit trees for community farming. Unique experiences include shaded sit-outs, pavilions, and pebbled walkways on streams.
How do you approach the design process to maximise energy efficiency? Can you provide examples of design strategies that significantly reduce energy consumption in a project?
At IMK Architects, our focus on energy-efficient design reduces lifecycle costs by diminishing energy reliance. Key strategies include a passive design for natural resource harnessing, adaptive reuse for preserving existing structures, and using energy-efficient HVAC systems like geothermal heat pumps and solar panels. Material selection prioritises sustainable options with lower carbon footprints, aiding in reduced maintenance costs. Conducting a life cycle assessment evaluates the long-term environmental impact of the building.
Discuss your approach to material selection in green building projects. What criteria do you use to choose environmentally friendly materials?
We assess building materials based on “embodied energy/carbon,” considering total energy or GHG emissions in production and delivery. Favouring natural and local materials with lower embodied energy, we prioritise their use and reuse. At Symbiosis University Hospital, Compressed Earth Bricks (CEB) led to 80% less energy consumption, ensuring thermal comfort and reducing operational costs. These bricks, made from on-site excavated red and murum soil, eliminated the need to buy or transport bricks, minimising construction waste. The bricks were naturally compressed and sundried, reducing carbon dioxide emissions compared to traditional kiln firing.
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