Walking around the courtyard, past the collage of corbelled seats and bay windows, one is drawn to the waterfront, where a club and crèche lie on either side of the semi-open space used for interaction. Each individual unit has been designed to have an identity, in terms of its planning and location in the community. Every home has adequate natural light and cross ventilation. The interior spaces flow into each other, having walls only where required. The bedrooms are oriented towards the outside, while the living areas overlook the courtyard. In keeping with their principles of cost-effective construction, the designers created structures that minimised the use of reinforced concrete and steel. Instead there was a use of materials, which were appropriate and eco-friendly.
A strip raft foundation was found to be sufficient for the three-storied circular load bearing brick structure. After testing a number of bricks, of various qualities, a wire-cut, country burnt brick, from a nearby kiln was selected for its size, strength and colour. The 9″ brick walls had the outer face exposed and flush pointed, and the inside plastered. Arches were used to span large openings and windows, while doors were spanned with pre-cast thin lintels. Economical timber sections of jack-wood and anjali were used for the doors and windows. Filler slabs, using rejected Mangalore tiles, made up the roof and the floors, thus making the slab lighter and also reducing structural steel. Besides being economical, the filler slab also keeps the inside cooler and is ideal for hot and humid climates.The interiors are kept simple with terracotta flooring and lime washed walls, with an occasional arch or a bay window to add character to the space.
The sewage system uses a series of septic tanks for the solid waste, while the grey water is separately treated. The rainwater from the roofs is allowed to percolate through the courtyard, thus recharging the ground water. Organic waste is collected for composting, to achieve a sustainable recycling system. Thus the design worked efficiently, using minimum circulation space and a maximum of the site to create a built environment, which enhanced the lives of its inhabitants. A result of enthusiastic teamwork between the architects, engineers, masons and other skilled workers, the project was completed within the estimated cost, in a period of 16 months. The hamlet today, with perhaps a flower patterned curtain on a window,-clothes hanging on a terrace, people conversing across terraces and a tricycle left in a courtyard, feels warm and secure, giving room for individual expressions while embracing them into the community.