via Hindi Time by
Growing up listening to the waves at Versova in Mumbai, Trupti Doshi never found an irony in living amidst a bustling city life and yet, sitting for hours looking at the placid void across the horizon. Maybe its this habit of living in polar opposite ambiences that helped this Mumbai architect blend easily into the laid-back Auroville life after she moved to Puducherry in 2002.
Doshi, architect, integrated sustainability engineer from Puducherry Auroville, and co-founder of The Auroma Group, is a professional with a social responsibility. It was her quest for sustainable architecture and discovery of the country’s phenomenal diversity, which took her to Puducherry, where she happened to visit some villages.
She has been tirelessly working with renewable energy sources and natural materials like earth and fly ash to build ecologically sensitive constructions.
An architectural marvel
She is one of the two leading architects behind Sharanam phase 1, a five-acre plot selected for building an inspirational centre for the Integral Village Development Programme, a rural development centre located at Puducherry. Sharanam has been acknowledged by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) as one of the top five green buildings of India.
It is a highly engineered and optimised campus, built entirely out of unfired earth from foundation to roof, to a precision of 1mm. “Earth below me has become the sky above me. When I was playing, the earth was listening,” is what Titanic’s violinist, Paul Peabody had to say about it. After hearing about the accoustic qualities of the building, he was so fascinated that he flew down to Puducherry to perform here. “One of his friends had told him about the large earthen vault I had built at Sharanam and he wished to perform underneath it.”
Doshi talks many a time like a poet or an artiste. She calls buildings ‘manuscripts of human evolution’. “Buildings and cities are not ends in themselves, they are parts of the larger cyclical loops of Nature and should be planned as such. Well-built buildings will not just witness and nurture several generations, they will outlive them. The built environment holds within itself the collective knowledge of all who have lived in those buildings. They encapsulate history, document civilisations and embody the spirit of the age,” she says.
Miles to go
According to Development Alternatives, a research and action enterprise, dedicated to sustainable development, the construction sector in India emits 22% of the total emission of CO2 in which, over a staggering 80% are from energy intensive materials like cement, steel, bricks, etc. And, Doshi’s work completely goes against this polluting paradigm of urbanised constructions. Her buildings take into account everything — right from the climactic conditions and availability of water in the area to the quality of the soil and energy efficiency.
How did she arrive at this unorthodox approach to architecture? She recalls a day, many years ago, when as a 20-year-old sitting in a Humanities lecture, in her Architecture school, she rushed to the washroom to hold back her tears. She had just learnt about the catastrophic social and ecological devastation that happened in our country in the name of economic growth. “I felt so helpless, that I slammed the toilet seat down and sat on it crying, for almost an hour,” she remembers, “I asked myself, ‘Do I want to contribute to poisoning the rivers, chopping down forests and mining the mountains?’ That day became the turning point in my life. I decided to move away from the conveyor belt and become a change maker.”
For Doshi, architecture is as creative a pursuit as writing or painting. Some of her inspirations are Sri Aurobindo, Beethoven, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and architect Antonio Gaudi. “I have tried to meet each of them personally through their work, and I always felt that if these five men were to meet, they would have a real party ! So I brought them together in my workspace.”
Poet, traveller and shutterbug, she has a holistic approach to work and life. She says, “I have never understood this concept of work-life balance. I believe we need to live enriching lives. Sincerity, gratitude, courage, empathetic listening and non-violent communication are the very qualities we need in our work. When all aspects of our life are organised around our central aspiration, they act as an integrated whole and nourish each other.”
on the global stage
Trupti Doshi has been awarded the prestigious Professional Fellows Program, funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a global exchange fellowship program for emerging leaders and change-makers from different countries
She is the youngest Indian woman architect whose work has been featured by the United Nations Environment Programme as a model for sustainable development in India.
To know more, visit theauromagroup.com.
You can also see her Tedx Talk at YouTube called “Making smart buildings before making buildings smart”.
Sharanam has been acknowledged by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) as one of the top five green buildings of India. It is a highly engineered and optimised institutional campus, built entirely out of unfired earth from foundation to roof, to a precision of 1mm