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Finding Fulfillment in Building Low-Cost, Natural Architectural Structures giving high energies to occupants

I've been deeply entrenched in the field of architecture for 33 years. My connection with this discipline has been profound, particularly because I believe one truly learns through teaching. For 23 years, I had the privilege of being a professor, and for 10 years, I served as Head of Department. This role allowed me to explore and learn extensively. However, my journey in architecture began much earlier, sparked by a conversation with my father, an agriculturist, who introduced me to the concept of "live architecture"—structures made from living plants, not dead materials. This idea has stayed with me throughout my career.

Throughout my education in B. Arch and M. Arch, and later as a professor, I was drawn to subjects related to sustainable architecture, green architecture, eco-friendly architecture, live architecture, and natural architecture. With the advent of the internet, I found myself captivated by videos showcasing primitive architecture, where individuals built structures using just one knife. It amazed and puzzled me. In contrast to what I had learned—requiring steel, cement , and a multitude of consultants and specialized and unskilled laborers—these videos showed how one or two people could build functional spaces on their own. This sparked a deep desire within me to learn more and to be able to do so.

At a certain point, I decided to take voluntary retirement and start living life to the fullest. I embarked on the Narmada Parikrama on foot, without carrying any money. This journey was transformative, offering me the experience of living a natural life without using harmful conventional chemicals. Upon returning, I initiated several ventures for single women, driven by a newfound purpose. Amidst these ventures, I encountered magical experiences that led me to explore the concept of energy. I realized that everything is energy. This understanding drove me to investigate further, leading me to purchase machines to test the energies of products, spaces, and even humans. To my surprise, I found that human energy levels were significantly lower in buildings made of cement and paint, whereas they were much higher in mud houses. This revelation solidified my belief that I should focus on learning and creating mud houses to help people, the environment, and Mother Earth.

My recent project stands as a testament to this belief. We constructed an 11-foot diameter dome using natural materials, with a total cost of just Rs. 10 for the binding wire. Everything else, including bamboo, mud, cow dung, and straw, was sourced freely from our farms. The dome made of basically bamboo and mud, serves as a multifunctional space, providing shelter while maintaining harmony with nature. It’s naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter, demonstrating the practical benefits of sustainable architecture. This project exemplifies how sustainable building practices can be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly, reinforcing my long-held conviction that natural materials are superior.

In conclusion, my journey in architecture has come full circle, from formal education to embracing the wisdom of nature. The profound satisfaction I derive from building with natural materials reflects my belief that true architectural mastery lies in learning from and working with nature. By constructing spaces that enhance human well-being and coexist harmoniously with the environment, we honor the essence of live architecture introduced to me by my father. This approach not only fulfills a personal dream but also offers a sustainable path forward, proving that we can build better by building naturally.

- Manjushree Rathi

Director, ME Holistic Centre

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