Back to the future Design, Kochi Biennale

Back to our natural roots and sustainable construction techniques.

Architect Samira Rathod has innovative and forward-thinking design concepts for clients and one such design was about a Pavilion at Kochi Biennale 2023. She wanted to design the pavilion from raw construction waste (walls) and flexible roof (sinusoidal shape) which would take broken brick filling out of construction waste.

The site was in Fort Kochi area and the soil there is weak, and it rains in that part of India keeping the soil moist and wet all the time. The idea was to eliminate RCC altogether and use alternative materials. The pavilion length 9 meters internal space and I had to figure out what combination would work best. What are the structures which are flexible but safe and workable? The immediate thought which comes to mind is ready to assemble furniture. Hence steel and spread foundations in steel, not concrete. The sinusoidal roof then had to be a geogrid which has the strength, flexible and can take brick bat waste except that geogrids are normally used for reinforcing along its plane. But that was alright. Important thing was to keep the main triangular tubular frame of steel as roof, vertical columns element including the same element as bottom part of frame too making it a complete triangular frame bay. This will then be joined by identical bays at 2400mm c/c and joined with tubular purlins. The roof now can take the shape it wants.

The walls were then constructed with wire frame boxes to hold the brick/ construction waste pieces together filled in graded manner, tied together with binding wire to restrain the lateral movement. The internal tree trunk columns were also introduced with special timber- steel connections (as pinned) to restrict deflections and lateral movement.

Pure Architectural Engineering… Back to roots but being futuristic. The building unfolds as large space under a singular roof that touches the ground, inspired from the many roofs of Kochi.
This temporary structure treads lightly, as it stands without any concrete footings, and may be dismantled to retrieve all of its material that may be reused or re-assembled again elsewhere.

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