Top Kerala builder calls to bring back good old bio-fences

Kochi: A leading builder in Kerala has called for replacing the concrete compound walls with traditional bio-fences, saying it would bring back the shrinking biodiversity on residential premises.
"Kerala’s compound walls are unparalleled in the world and together they are an astonishing 5,000 km long. We should now try to replace them with our good old bio-fences at least partially,” said Sunil Kumar V, Managing Director, Asset Homes.

He was delivering the introductory address at the 26th Beyond Square Feet (BSF) lecture series organised by Asset Homes on the occasion of World Habitat Day. Sunil Kumar said our bio-fences were the biosystem where creepers like cucumber, bitter gourd and ivy gourd, spread their web with flowers and fruits, attracting butterflies, insects and beetles. “Cats, dogs, and fowls used to crawl through these fences. However, when the last piece of land in the yard is covered with tiles and a wall is built around it, Robert Frost's question as to what is marked inside the wall and what is left out becomes relevant," Sunil Kumar said.

“Today, people are building walls even around two and three cents of land. The wall is built even before the construction of the house begins. Earlier, only palaces and prisons had walls. He also said that even a layer of existing walls could be turned back into old-fashioned bio fences to bring back the biodiversity on our borders.

Indrajit Kembhavi, a prominent architect selected by Architect and Interiors India magazine as one of the top 10 architects in the country, who delivered the keynote address, said that out of the 30% of the earth's land area, only 2% is habitable. Human beings deal enough damage to even this small portion.

“Western countries have caused the most environmental pollution. Most of India's traditional construction methods take into account the environment. And, it is ironic that we are now stretching out our hands to receive green certificates for our buildings from the West,” said Kembhavi.

“As Sunil Kumar said, we need sustainable microenvironment habits. Many of the multi-storey buildings that we have built are surrounded by Miyawaki city forests. The materials used in construction should be sustainable and locally raised as far as possible," he said.

"I see glass as the most environment-friendly building material. Glass should be used in large quantities in large housing projects. Windows should not always remain closed. Many of the offices these days function like chicken farms weighed down by strong light in closed rooms. Let light and air pass through whenever possible. Excessive dependence on air conditioning should be reduced through methods like wind catching. Even in places where it is 50 degrees hot, the buildings we have constructed do not have ACs," he said.

Kembhavi pointed out that local culture was always important. Tradition should not be replicated but made suitable to modern contexts through experiments. New technologies should also be used. He said the construction of houses should be contextually relevant.

The Forbes magazine had selected Indrajit Kembhavi-led Bengaluru-based Kembavi Architecture Foundation as among the top 30 leading architectural institutions in the country.
The Beyond Square Feet lecture series is organised every year by Asset Homes on the World Environment, Water, and Habitat Days.
Photo Caption: Prominent architect Indrajit Kembhavi speaking at the Beyond Square Feet lecture series organized by Asset Homes on the occasion of World Habitat Day.

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