Architects Ajay Abey and Tara Pandhal have been instrumental in making a house that is 50% cheaper and cooler to the environment.

For architects Ajay and Tara, sustainability has been more than a concept. They believe it to be a way of life. Sustainability is more than that right now. Food, fashion, living awareness has grown around everything. People are now making conscious efforts to have a more positive impact on the environment. The current climate crisis, even calls for it now. 


Prof. Eugene Pandala

Ajay and Tara have been driving factors to help create such living spaces for people. For them, it has been more action than preaching. They are an architect couple from Kochi, Kerala. Ajay graduated in Urban Design from the National University of Singapore in 2009. Tara has done her Master’s in Urban Design from CEPT, Ahmedabad. For Tara, the formative influence of her father Prof. Eugene Pandala has been, a ‘pioneering earth architecture,’ has been a plus.  

The duo runs the Centre for Sustainable Built and Natural Environment (CSBNE). Through their architecture skills, they provide biodiversity-inclusive solutions, specializing in urban design, heritage conversion, interiors and landscapes. With their designs, they aim to build a structure that is eco-friendly with climate-friendly methods. 

They not only want to build something that is friendly to nature but also to the pockets of people.


Ajay and Tara
Ajay and Tara

Ajay adds, “The existing norms in ‘Green Certified Housing’ are unaffordable and unfeasible at times. We realized that instead of complying with the slated norms, it would serve better to follow a need-based approach using sustainable methods.” 

Ajay and Tara’s ‘House of Hope’:

The duo decided to build a house on their ancestral land in Kakkanad of Kerala. They built a 16,000 sq. ft. home for Ajay’s parents in Rs. 27 lakh using sustainable methods. The architects say that the cost of building this kind of house is 50% cheaper than it would have been in the case of a conventional built. Ajay’s father, Abraham Joseph, didn’t want to give his entire savings to build this retirement house.

house of hope
House of hope

“We decided to adopt a new construction methodology called Energy Efficient-Climatologically. We employed contextually relevant economical, environment-friendly and reused materials,” says Ajay.

The way this new house is made encompasses the entire idea of a sustainable and affordable house for a single-family unit. 

Further, Ajay explains what all went in the process to make this unique house. They have used stilt columns to raise the level of the building. This would help in preventing damages from floods, earthquakes, etc. The use of cooler earth in the semi-accessible floor helps to create a cool air reservoir in the area.

The materials used in the framework of the walls are also very different. It uses the ‘rib and skin shell’ system. It uses only a 1.5-inch concrete bed instead of the conventional 4 inches. The material in construction is also saved in huge quantities here. The best outcome is that it is lightweight which in turn saves a significant load on the foundation. Moreover, non-degradable wastes like plastic and glass are used. This not only helps in saving costs but also recycling of these materials. 

Unique qualities of this house: 

According to Ajay, it took only three men, with minimal training, two days to work on this space. 

They made use of multilayer light-weight steel fabrication for the roof. The three layers in the roof ensure better control of temperature through the roof.

“The walls have mud wash, making them breathable and free from chemical materials or toxic paint coating,” says Tara.

For the windows, conventional glass windows were ditched and instead stainless steel insect-proof mesh was installed. This also contributes to the cooler interiors.

House of hope
Kerala’s cool haven

According to Tara, the house is both flexible and scalable. They can fairly increase or decrease the size of the house depending on what a family needs. Abraham Joseph moved to this newly built house two months before the lockdown in 2020. He is very happy with the new house and even his visitors leave awestruck many times. He says, most importantly, he is happy that building the house did not consume his entire life savings.

The entire house saved 67% less concrete, 75% less steel and no rubles in comparison to a conventional typology. Ajay and Tara have named it the ‘House of Hope,’ as it is more connected to the planet, people and pocket-friendly. 

They hope to make this sustainable practice a lifestyle for people. Check out their Instagram:  

Look at other sustainable brands:

Suscin – Promoting Sustainability

Woman created sustainable kids’ clothing- Mon Couer

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