By Vaishnavi Paturu
Being from an architecture background, we speak to a lot of people. What we realised is that there are many families living in the city who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Who want to reconnect back with how they have grown or their parents have grown. Who want to live in a more eco-friendly way.
But they cannot uplift their lives from the city and go back to villages.
Organo’s idea is to create eco-habitats. What are eco-habitats? They are not buildings. They are not just farms. They are home to diverse flora and fauna co-existing with humans.
And we realised that eco-conscious living is in-built in such a rural lifestyle. When I go to my village, I never see as much plastic as I see in the city. Any food that is left over after lunch is thrown in the backyard where it becomes food other animals in the food chain. I don’t waste as much water. I move often and I feel more healthier. I adjust to the weather after a few days and depend almost entirely on fans. I eat fresh food made from ingredients plucked from my backyard.
Can some of this be created nearer to the city. The idea of rurban was born out of this.
We wanted to make a rurban community which was self-reliant as much as possible. But early on we realised that for this to make meaningful sense, we should have goals towards which our effectiveness in design execution and operations must be measured.
We categorised our efforts into seven different areas - Sapta Patha - the seven strands of sustainability.
They are People, Food, Water, Air, Shelter, Energy & Earth.
Now each of these are separate and yet interconnected. Changing one aspect will have an impact on other areas. For example, the amount of food that is grown within the community will have a big impact on the amount of water available. The number of people in the community will have a direct impact on the food, water, energy and shelter, which is the built environment. The quality and type of soil, which is Earth, will have a great impact on the water usage patterns and water availability.
The relationships are not very linear. The biggest parameter that has a lot of impact on all seven areas is density. Living in the city, there is no option but to have very high density communities. Even if people want to live more sustainably, it is not possible
The natural response is to buy a piece of land in the outskirts and build a house with a farm. But there are a few challenges there. Collective is always better than individual. In a collective community, support systems are available, costs are optimised, experts can be onboarded to solve issues, different perspectives can be heard, there are more minds working for the overall good and most importantly, you have like-minded people who want to celebrate this ecoconscious way of life.
We are trying to measure what matters rather than drift away towards complicated frameworks.
What matters is stuff that can benefit the residents while benefiting the environment. For example, reliability of power through solar, water security through rainwater harvesting, comfortable homes built through usage of local materials, architectural design that improves ventilation, pleasant views of the farm which produces safe and witnessed food, and so on.