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Issue #24

PREVENTING OVERHEATING AND PROVIDING A COMFORTABLE SPACE TO FIND PEACE

High quality of living

At first glance, this Hindu temple in Vennached, India, breaks with all traditions. These temples are usually constructed in stone but, in this case, clay blocks were used, because they performed better in tests in terms of sturdiness, building logistics, and durability.
Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© AKHILA RAO
Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© Revanth Vojjala
Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© AKHILA RAO
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Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© AKHILA RAO

PREVENTING OVERHEATING AND PROVIDING A COMFORTABLE SPACE TO FIND PEACE

High quality of living

At first glance, this Hindu temple in Vennached, India, breaks with all traditions. These temples are usually constructed in stone but, in this case, clay blocks were used, because they performed better in tests in terms of sturdiness, building logistics, and durability.

Indian architecture is considered to be some of the oldest in the world. Its origins can be traced back to the cities of the early Indus culture, in the third century BC. A type of construction known as Hindu Temple or Mandir has been practiced since the seventh century AD.

Preference for clay blocks

The architect Hari Krishna Karri planned a plain temple, dedicated to the saint Shirdi Sai Baba, which was to be constructed in Tandur stone, a common local building material. However, during the consultation with the clients and the authorities, it was decided to switch from the grey stone to a more robust building material due to its better performance.

Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© AKHILA RAO

The use of materials is innovative and unique: 15 cm-thick, perforated clay blocks were used for the inner and outer walls of the temple room. For the seven metre-high shikhara, as the convex, stepped spire is called, 10 cm-thick blocks were used.

“In retrospect, I am very happy with this development,” says Karri, the architect, “The way that sunlight sometimes falls to cast symmetrical shadows and, at other times, dances unpredictably across the surface of the structure means that light itself becomes an ornament.”

Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© Ujjwal Sannala, Akhila Rao
Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© Ujjwal Sannala, Akhila Rao

Abstract ornamentation

The choice of material is harmonious, because the red not only reflects the earth, but also the different saffron tones that are to be found in many Hindu buildings and objects. “But the most important element of every temple,” says the architect, “is the ornamentation, which usually depicts people, animals, and deities. In this temple, however, the resplendent decoration is abstract in the pure geometry of the shikhara.

Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© Revanth Vojjala

An oasis in the heat of the city

And the colour … it comes from the people who go in and out of here.” The whole temple area benefits from the wind blowing through the perforations in the clay blocks, delivering a refreshing breeze. The cooling effect is enhanced by the mass storage capability of the clay blocks – they don´t heat up easily and serve as natural air-conditioning for all the temple visitors. Together with a large tree, they create shelter from the heat of the day and a place to rest one’s thoughts in a spiritual environment.

Buildings: Hindu Temple in Vennached/India
© AKHILA RAO
Facts
  • Project name
    The Temple and the People, Vennached, India
  • Architect
    SEA – Studio for Environment and Architecture
  • Used products

    Porotherm Smart bricks (clay blocks)

  • Year of completion
    2015
Porotherm Smart Bricks

Wall

Porotherm Smart bricks – India