Rudofsky, in his architecture without architects, points out that “untutored builders fit their work in the environment and topography. They don’t try to conquer nature.” India’s wide range of environments and topography assures equally wide range of responses. If you look at the roots, each rural builder adapts to environmental circumstances rather than confronting them.
Traditional domestic architecture harmonizes with the local climate. In the plains where temperatures are high, walls and roofs were often massive to give insulation. Broad Chajjas project over external and courtyard walls shading them from the sun and safe guard the walls from the heavy rains. Windows are plentiful but unglazed to allow efficient ventilation done with wooden shutters. Certain bed rooms were partially or wholly open to sky cooling rapidly after the Sun has set. But the lung and the light of the house is the courtyard, protected by the rooms all round from the direct sunlight. Often roofs and terraces drain in to a tank under the courtyard providing water to the household. Jallis or lattice work screen were used to allow passage of air and light in hot climates.
The design of built forms varies very much in India among its varied climates like hot-arid and tropical. Till now the architectural vocabulary is greatly dominated by the designs developed based on the influences of western world which are not a climate responsive for the Indian climatic conditions. In order to re orient architectural responses for India, we should look at the sources of inspiration from the traditional buildings from the past to make the built forms in the region more meaningful to the local climates by designing buildings which can breath and by reducing un necessary energy usage for comfort conditions inside.
An effective Climate change strategy must consider options for reducing the GHG emissions associated with buildings by looking at how they are constructed, used, and located. To reduce GHG emissions from the building sector, guidelines for sustainable buildings by ECBC, GRIHA and coordination between technical and policy solutions, have to be integrated with architectural design. A large part of building sustainably is about enhancing biodiversity, creating spaces that are healthy, economically viable and sensitive to social needs. Rather than constantly battling against the natural environment, we need to start respecting natural systems to create a better balance between human life with natural environment.