'OutOfTheBox' Uses Eco-Design To Breathe New Life Into Traditional Architecture

'OutOfTheBox' Uses Eco-Design To Breathe New Life Into Traditional Architecture
Out Of The Box Eco-Architects

Out of the Box is an architecture firm with a mission: to create thriving, sustainable lifestyles through eco-sensitive design and building practices. Led by architects Prasad Tambe and Harshita Tophakhane, their focus is on composing a harmonious connection between people and the environments they inhabit.

Out of the Box continues to push the boundaries of sustainable design. Their playful experimentation is evident in their exploration of traditional techniques like wattle and daub. They readily share their learnings, like the need for additional clay in their local soil for this method. This commitment to ongoing exploration ensures their designs are constantly evolving and improving.

Sustainability starts with what you build with. The architects turned to the earth itself, crafting the primary load-bearing structure from handmade adobe blocks sourced directly from the site. This not only minimized environmental impact but also provided valuable training for local craftsmen, ensuring these skills are passed down to future generations.

They apply indigenous techniques with modern innovation to foster a deep respect for the natural world and a connection to the place. Their philosophy is beautifully embodied in their project, 'The House of Reclaimed Gold,' located in Palghar, Maharashtra, India.

To fulfill the client's desire to reconnect with his family and heritage, the architects saw this as an opportunity to showcase the power of eco-sensitive design. Their approach focused on minimizing environmental disruption and reviving traditional skills within the community.

The project's name reflects the use of salvaged materials. Discarded chiseled basalt rock from demolished wada-style forts found new purpose as the foundation and walls. Seasoned wood from vernacular homes that were being replaced with modern structures was meticulously repurposed for decking, roofing, and even doors and windows. Even broken granite waste from local depots was transformed into beautiful mosaic flooring.

The scorching summers and heavy monsoons of the region were key considerations. The house is designed with two wings on an east-west axis, minimizing sun exposure and maximizing natural ventilation. Thick adobe walls provide thermal mass, keeping the interior cool. Expansive overhangs, verandahs, and a strategically placed lily pond further enhance natural ventilation and cooling.

Their 'Solitude' project further blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors. The handcrafted A-frame, built with local wood, offers a peaceful retreat that celebrates traditional Indian craftsmanship

Their deep respect for heritage is evident in their reuse of materials from old homes. Resourcefulness and innovation are hallmarks of their work, with techniques like the adobe mold for electrical conduits and repurposed wood demonstrating their ingenuity. Climate-conscious design is a priority, with strategies like building orientation and natural ventilation ensuring the home functions well in its environment.

The firm understands that sustainability goes beyond just materials and methods. Seemingly small detail demonstrates how Out of the Box designs not just for the environment, but for the way people want to live.

Follow Out of the Box here.