This is Chapter 1 of our story that is unfolding. We are excited to share it with you.
A research lab
A research lab is what a group of architects in an apartment trying to solve issues through much tinkering and ideating called themselves. Tejas Sidnal had been fascinated with biomimicry from the second year of his architectural education. After his thesis project for a Biomimicry Institute, he decided to pursue this subject in his Masters. At the AA school of Architecture in London, he completed a course on Emergent Technologies and Design where he was introduced to the intersection of Biomimicry, Design and Material Science.
Back in India, Tejas attempted to apply his learning of fusing technology with local technique to solve a design problem along with his architectural firm. The studies led to pretty interesting results which were later shared and developed through workshops in collaboration with AA visiting school. Different materials and techniques were used as the workshops progressed such as cement, bamboo, clay tiles.
Air, water, food
2018 was a year of awakening for us all. Melting glaciers, hot days, extreme weather events, floods. The hard truth was undeniable: Climate change is real and it’s knocking on the door.
The sense of urgency was apparent and the team got to work. Air, water, food; the necessities of human life and the focal points of humanity’s crisis, but which one to choose? A flurry of information joined all the dots: Air is the most vital necessity, Air pollution is the biggest challenge faced by this generation and to lower temperatures, carbon emissions should be reduced. The final nail that fixed the course was the fact that the construction industry was responsible for 39% of carbon emissions, making the issue of air pollution a matter of moral responsibility for the team of architects. Which also begs the question
why aren’t there many solutions to reduce pollution in the construction industry?
The 2018 AAVS workshop was based on this question. Inspired by the Droneport by Norman Foster; an elegant combination of modern technology, design and craft to provide a solution for a local problem, Tejas tried to apply the concept to the problem of air pollution in Delhi. The result was Breathe, an air filtering façade that was made with air pollution.
The prototype of the geometric façade made with FRP promised much potential but also had a lot of challenges. Over the different workshops, the team had realised that solutions in the developing world required a different approach; a fusion of the modern and traditional. With the help of the inventors of AIR-INK, an idea was formulated to bring air pollution into the world of spatial design
Air pollution as a resource?
As Janine Benyus had eloquently put it
When the forest and the city are functionally indistinguishable, then we know we have reached sustainability
Everything in nature has a functional purpose and there is no wastage. Then why do humans have so much waste? (fun trivia: Our lead designer based his architectural thesis on this question). Using air pollution as a resource in the model of a circular economy just as everything in the forest comes a full circle; that was the philosophy that led to Carbon Craft Design.
While there are many brilliant solutions to climate change the challenge was to make an impactful change. Architectural elements which allowed easy use and application would empower more people to take action and thus strengthen the movement. Among the experiments, the handcrafted tiles allowed for design intervention and a strong narrative which ensure the message of air pollution was communicated.
And thus, with a little help from Janine Beynus, Norman Foster, Anirudh, Nikhil and most importantly our craftsmen, our carbon story began on January 22nd 2020.
Thanks to Shradha Shaji Paul for beautifully putting this piece together.