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Down to earth

Designer Rohan Matthew talks about the unique concept of earth-bag structure- a new age and an inexpensive type of natural home that revolves around using natural resources and can go a long way in protecting the environment

Story: Karsten Miranda | 19th March 2017, 04:54 Hrs


Ever wonder about happens to the people who have lost their houses in a natural calamity. These people face a struggle as they try and find shelter and look at ways in which they can build their home again with whatever resources are available to them. This is where the concept of earth-bags has come in handy: an inexpensive construction method using mostly local soils to create structures which are both strong and can be quickly built.   
“This is what we specialize in doing, using the most abundant materials available we design structures that are safe and sustainable,” said Rohan Matthew, who runs a sustainable design studio in Sainik Farms, Delhi.   
 In addition to being used as an alternative to calamity stricken areas, earth-bags is also used by those who are looking to live in a much healthier, natural, and an organic home.   
Rohan was in Goa recently. He conducted sessions at the recently concluded See Sharp Fest- India’s first ever-sustainable living and learning festival, which was held at Ashwem beach. The festival focused on green living. For the participants, it was a quest to go back to living in harmony with the rhythms of nature while learning how to improve our own potential.   
At his workshop, Rohan spoke on different type of eco friendly, green earth buildings and demonstrated how one could make an earth-bag home for themselves. According to Rohan, this concept has become popular worldwide, among those who are fed up of using chemicals and industrial machinery to live in expensive, unsustainable and unhealthy homes. Everyone wants a cost effective construction as well as a cost efficient operation during the life of the building. This is what earth-bag and other earth structures offer.   
“The earth-bag concept is about using abundant resources to make a comfortable and sustainable natural building. Earth and old cement bags are available in plenty and can be put together rather intelligently to construct your very own home. The easiest way to explain this would be that we are replacing a 4” brick with a 18” earth-bag and applying other natural laws of physics to obtain the maximum benefits from the building materials and technique itself,” said Rohan.   
While addressing the participants at the festival, Rohan, who has done his M.B.A in Corporate Social Responsibility, from the University of Amsterdam, touched upon the history of natural earthen homes. He discussed the various types of homes available, the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of homes and why and how one should choose their home type.   
According to Rohan, a lot of the solutions to the problems on the planet can and have been formulated through the perspective of permaculture.   
For the unacquainted, permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.   
“We are after all stewards of nature and not owner’s of it. This thinking can be designed into every field of human endeavour. As shown by some great minds of the past including Arn

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