One Earth Foundation recently organized a Field study on Sustainable Living: Traditional vs Modern Architecture. Over 30 enthusiastic IBDP (First Year) students and 4 teachers from a leading International school actively participated in this full day field module in Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu). The group visited two locations to conduct their study
a) a Toda village (Mund) to study the very unique rainbow huts (called Arsh) of this primitive tribal group that reside in the upper Nilgiris region.
b) an eco-resort called De Rock just outside the town of Coonoor
Some of the learning objectives of this study were:
1) Understanding the need for green dwellings for housing the Worlds rising population.
2) Traditional dwellings: learning’s in green architecture
3) Modern day eco friendly architecture: Immense possibilities going forward
4) Lessons from traditional architecture and their relevance today
The students noted that the huts were rainbow shaped and on an average about 10 feet high, 18 feet long and 9 feet wide. They are built of bamboo fastened with rattan and grass. Each hut is surrounded by loose stone walls. The Arsh has a small entrance at the front about 3 feet x 3 feet. The size is small to protect against wild animals. The front of the cottage is decorated with a unique Toda art form – a kind of rock mural painting. Thick bamboo sticks are used to cover the hut and give it the basic oval form. Thin bamboo sticks are tied in a parallel manner to fill the gaps. Locally available grass is thatched on top of this. Their survey revealed that due to non-availability of materials, the Todas are now unable to maintain their traditional dwellings and hence are being forced t move into brick & cement small houses. The grasslands from which they procured their materials have over the years been converted to plantations for tea, eucalyptus and acacia.
The group also visited De Rock, an eco-resort built by an environmentalist Mr Charles. The students were given a briefing by Mr Charles on the need for sustainable architecture and the various green aspects of the buildings. Reuse and zero wastage were the some of the guiding principles that he had used in construction and running of the resort.
For additional information on Educational Field Excursions by One Earth Foundation, please contact