Most architects are eager to design houses exactly as per the likes and wishes of their clients. They feel pride when his/her designs get the approval of the elders in the client’s family or even the people in the locality. The architects make sure to adorn the walls with the client’s favourite shades of colours and other designer elements.
However, they seldom understand the changes that have been happening in the weather pattern of Kerala. I often ask my friends who are engineers and architects why they do not add rain shades on windows and stop with just sun shades.
The shades that are seen on most houses make sure that rain and sunlight enter the house. If the house face east or west side, then the shades should be projected at least three feet from the wall as the direction of the rains in Kerala would be in the east-west direction. The sunlight and the winds too would be in the same direction.
Most architects design the projection from the main slab up to twenty centimetres, which is not scientifically correct.
Can a projection of twenty centimetres, built three and a half meters above the ground level, prevent the rain from hitting the outer walls? The answer would be ‘no’. The 4000 mm rain that falls during the monsoon season hits the outer walls before flowing to the ground.
Meanwhile, in the summer, the houses become as hot as ovens. The excessive use of concrete is one of the reasons for that. Adding cement–sand plastering in 15 mm thickness for enhancing the looks of the house and to make painting easier is another reason. The external wall plastering absorbs heat during summer and increases the temperature inside the house. Meanwhile, there is no need for such plastering to prevent the rains. Air holes are added to the walls to ensure air circulation inside the house. However, such smaller holes aren’t enough to keep the interiors cool and comfortable. Most of the rooms in such houses turn into hot kilns from noon onwards. You must keep in mind that switching on the fans is not going to help reduce the heat during harsh summers.
We haven’t learned to build homes that suit the weather; instead, we try to fix things by purchasing air conditioners which is a temporary solution.
The concrete compound walls too add to the rising temperature inside the house. So, it would be wiser to plant trees, plants, vines or even plantain trees around the house in order to keep the outer walls cooler.
Scientifically designed homes are essential to effectively prevent rain and sunshine. Homes shouldn’t be just concrete structures where your engineering skills are exhibited. It should share a special bond with the changing climate and seasons too. Moreover, homes should be eco-friendly and sustainable.
(The writer is a designer)