Don’t let the building be a box
If the house has no natural air movement, the only option left is to have exhausts and ceiling fans and keep them on all the time.
Let all rooms open into the garden
The Green Sense column explores just one theme in each essay, which makes it easy to read and comprehend. In the process, it singles out issues, which ideally cannot be so separated, being part of the whole process of building. Material cannot be discussed without reference to external elevation; windows affect internal functionality; and semi-open spaces need to relate to the building plan at large.
As such, without the opportunity of an inter-related narration in long text, this column is limited to information coming in bits and pieces, and it is hoped that the reader would connect them together. Often, it may be difficult to inter-relate the topics, where the specific eco-theme stands in isolation, and may never get applied. Hence all of the above explanation and the following text to illustrate the case of window positions and plan form.
One of the reader inquiries mentioned about a newly built house, wondering how to increase air movement. Look at most of city houses built within a specific rectangular site. The building form too happens to be a rectangle, add two floors with a flat roof, imagine a balcony or some terrace – at first look it is a rectangular box.
Most rooms have only one external wall, where we end up having one big window in the centre of wall, hoping the size of window would solve all our problems of light and air! In addition, all rooms would have walls and doors, which block the little light and slight air that may filter into the room, resulting in no air movement across the house at all.
We are not criticising the conventional approach, but hoping to learn from it. We realise, enabling air and light is also a function of the house plan; hence there could be one plan that increases air and another that hinders it.
If the house is already built with no thoughts on natural air movement, the only option left it is to have mechanical means like exhausts and ceiling fans and keep them on all the time.
Don’t get rigid in your plans
Instead, let us imagine a house plan where the external wall is not one straight line, plan not a rigid rectangle and the whole house not a box. Imagine one bedroom jetting out by 3 or 4 feet where the window can happen in three directions. Automatically, air movement increases. In case we insert a small garden within the rectangle plan, it would get three walls around it and accordingly there could be three rooms or spaces opening into this garden. Since this open space is within the rectangle, it will not be visible from the road, providing privacy during the use of garden.
Even if the neighbour builds close to the compound wall, there would be light filtering in from this private garden setback.
If such ideas get extended further, what do we get? It would be a building with walls projecting or receding and an attractive overall form. There would be more light and air, achieved not merely by the windows, but by the plan itself.