Architecture: Ventilation with the help of stone

(April 2011) Ventilation, i.e. a pleasant breeze, usually involves mechanical ventilators. But nature has found another method, namely by putting different temperatures and air pressures to use – where it seeks an equilibrium, a pleasant breeze ensues. India’s Neelesh Chopda, architect, put this concept to work in his residential complex in the province of Rajasthan. He was awarded one of the All India Stone Architectural Awards for his ideas.

Chopta designed the roofing of his Maheshwari House in the City of Jodhpur in the shape of a vault. Void chambers separate the inner arches from the roof elements, comprised of loosely fitted sandstone strips. The sandstone, warmed by the sun’s rays, quickly attains a higher temperature than the chambers below, creating a natural ventilation between the two layers and thus cooling the rooms below. The use of natural stone amplifies the effect.

No light weight, the stone strips each 3.6 m long, 30 cm wide and 7.5 cm thick, are supported by a reinforced concrete skeleton into which the chambers are integrated.

A number of details required special attention: to allow a constant current of fresh air, pipes on the sides of the building had to be integrated, covered by nets to keep out unwanted guests, like insects. Rainwater and condensation can flow off through these side openings. The stone was treated with a special solution to ward off mould but still allow the stone to breathe. The brick vault below is impregnated to make it water-resistant.

The walls, too, are made of Jodhpur sandstone, traditionally used in India in construction of living quarters, providing bearable room climate despite high temperatures. Flooring is made of white marble and Kotahstone limestone.

Neelesh Chopda (Mail)

Architects Vijay Arya und Meghal Arya used Kotahstone limestone in their Mewas complex as well – a Memorial in honour of the battle of Rajsamand, also situated in Rajasthan province, commemorating the Hindu leader Maharana Pratap (1540-1597) who fought against the Mughal, a dynasty of Mongolian origin.

The rounded outer stone and columns are massive coursed rubble masonry. The tower is cladded by slabs of the same material. Pebbles cover the flooring as if to bring the rough outer landscape inside the complex.

Vijay Arya and Meghal Arya (Mail)

Mewar complex

Architect Deepak Srivastava constructed a lodge in the jungle of Madhya Pradesh province using local granite in keeping with traditional construction methods for flooring and walls. The complex by the name of Kanha Earth Lodge is situated in Balaghat a the edge of the famous Kanha nature reserve for tigers.

Deepak Srivastava (Mail)

The All India Stone Architectural Awards (AISAA) are awarded annually by the Centre for Development of Stones (CDOS) for „creativity and excellence“ in Stone according to a press release. The purse is sponsored in part by the Indian Council of Architecture. Each award-winning entry receives a prise of 100,000 Rupies (~ 2180 US-$, ~ 1550 €).

Submissions were accepted for the second time running and 58 participants tendered proposals. The above-mentioned award winners were among those in the categories exterior facings, interior design and landscape architecture. There was no award winner in the category green architecture this time around.

Centre for Development of Stones (CDOS)

Photos: CDOS