ABOUT VINU DANIEL
The founder of ‘Vagabond’ architecture firm Wallmakers, Vinu Daniel is an architect who makes poetic structures out of brick and mud. He has a deep commitment to low-cost and eco-sensitive buildings that has steadily disrupted misconceptions around mud as a building material since establishing his studio in 2007. Being a wannabe singer, now an architect- In the past few years, his work has gained acclaim for his innovative use of upcycled and scrap materials.
Vinu Daniel is changing the guidelines of building living spaces, one step at a time. The honor-winning architect is taking green architecture and sustainable construction to another level with his utilization of mud, bamboo, and reused material, all things considered: utilized bottles, salvaged material, jute sacks, coconut shells, broken bricks and the sky is the limit from there.
WHO WAS HIS INSPIRATION?
Being an architecture student of College of Engineering Trivandrum, he once got the opportunity of meeting Laurie Baker- the father of eco-friendly, low-cost, sustainable architecture in India. That encounter helped him gain perspective and made sustainable architecture as his design credo. Baker’s vision that one must use materials available within a five-mile radius to build houses as much as possible taught Vinu that architecture was way beyond just blueprints, muds and bricks. This became the foundation of his career.
Every architect has his own design philosophy. What was Vinu’s ideology?
After taking his training for sustainable architecture from Auroville Earth Institute, he soon launched his own independent firm. Being a fervent fan of sustainability, mud bricks, recycled materials, apt utilisation of natural resources and eco-friendly method of construction shaped his design ideology.
Vinu has mentioned in his interviews that it was difficult for his to gain the trust of the clients initially. It was only after he built a house- Valasa Cottage- for his uncle in Mavelikara, which went on to win the India Today eco-friendly house of the year and got published in architect Rahul Mehrotra’s book ‘Architecture in India’; people started trusting in him and gaining confidence in his designs.
Vinu believes that every house is a work of art- a place that has its own soul. So, he always comes up with innovative and imaginative ideas for his projects. None of his two projects are similar to each other. From being ecologically conscious, he has graduated to recycling waste in the most innovative ways.
Having a soft corner for music, he also stated during an interview that music was a part of the compositions in the brick and mud. He added, each brick resonated music.
What do you think? Is this why all of his building resembles poetry and rhythm?
Talking of his buildings, let’s dig into one of them!
IHA, RESIDENCE IN MANANTHALA
As stated by the Wallmakers, the design of this residence breaks the shackles of a lot of generic ideas.
The idea was to raise the building from the ground, consequently forming a pond at the lowest point in the site which edges into the house with a staircase dangling over it. The main concern while designing was to avoid creating an environmental imbalance in the area as it was a low-lying region. The focal point of the building was the cantilevered staircase hanging from the bamboo façade capturing the wild side of the residence.
The living area provides a serene atmosphere and absolute solitude created by the bamboo and rustic furniture made with scrap wood.
Tiny, cozy places are not restrained to the interiors of the residence. Semi-private interstitial areas like these that connect the outside and the inside is the soul of this project.
The intricately worked out rotating CSEB jali creates a congruous circulation of air and a beautiful pattern on the walls as light beams through it. The grills made of discarded Whirlpool Washing machine wheels creates an unseen and elaborate pattern and contributes towards the cause of reusing scrap material to create a unique piece of art.
The simplistic design of an open kitchen with cabinets made from scrap wood. The minimalistic interior and decor of the residence fits right in without creating much noise , keeping in mind the space and vibe the house projects.
As the world awakens to sustainable architecture now, Vinu Daniel had a vision that was way before its time.
Vinu Daniels has bagged up awards too. Let’s have a look at his achievements.
Viu shares two patents in his name for Debris wall and Shuttered Debris wall with architect Shobita Jacob.
For the house he constructed for Lakshmikuttyamma, a cancer patient, low- cost eco-friendly, he was awarded by the Pollution Control Committee.
He also won the International Sustainability Award for his Chirath Residence, Pala in 2018.
He managed to bag-up an award from NDTV in 2015 and the IIA National award in 2016 for his project- St. George Orthodox Church at Mattancherry.
He won several awards in different categories for Biju Mathew’s house in Pathanamthitta, where he experimented with the debris wall for the first time. Won the competition to build the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Pavilion (2014), the largest Conoid built using ferrocrete. He had also built the pavilion for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale at Aspinwall House at Fort Kochi in 2016.
The list of his achievements’ is long and continuous. His approach towards architecture and his projects are commendable and setting an example for every upcoming architect. In a world filled with skyscraper, we must say, Vinu Daniels is giving dimension to a whole new era of traditional architecture.