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Cut back on your carbon footprint by learning to build with eco-friendly materials at the five-day residential workshop at Auroville

DID YOU know that earth and bamboo can be used not only for crude self-construction, but also for high-precision engineered structures? Bringing back these raw materials that once formed the basis of every construction, the team at Auroville Green Practices is back with their sixth five-day Earth & Bamboo residential workshop.
“Although such programmes usually attract architecture and design students, it is heartening to see enthusiasts from all walks of life participating. The level of fascination for eco-friendly alternatives to housing needs is immense, and creating something that will minimise the impact on the environment is gratifying too,” shares facilitator Martin Scherfler, who is originally from Austria.
Dirt track
Facilitating the Earth session is Satprem Maini, the founder of Earth Centre, a part of Green Practices, in Auroville. “The centre has, for the past 27 years, been actively researching and developing techniques of construction using earth. Our workshops are formulated to spread the message for a better, sustainable environment,” Maini shares. After  a short theoretical lecture, participants will get their hands dirty, literally. “They will learn to build with earth, which includes earthen techniques — from building traditional adobe bricks to making cob with earth and straw,” Maini adds. Apart from learning detailed curing processes, participants will also construct a basic wall.
Raising the cane
Following a similar structure to the Earth session, participants attending the Bamboo session — conducted by technical advisor Walter Van-Asche from Belgium, who has over 36 years of experience in carpentry — will start working with bamboo immediately. From bending, cutting and joining it to create domes, panels and even structural elements like walls and doors, everything is explored. They will can get insights into bamboo construction, too, which comprises 97 per cent of natural materials. Also, expect an introduction to the derivatives of bamboo that are being thoroughly researched at the Auroville centre —think bamboo jewellery, furniture, toys, home decor and so more.
For Coimbatore-based lawyer S Ramanan, 45, attending the workshop last year gave him “a chance to briefly step away from my job and do something entirely different. It was not only a stress buster in many ways, but also fuelled my fascination for eco construction and sustainability.” Ramanan has now incorporated his learning at his farm in Kodaikanal.
Priced at Rs 15,500 (inclusive of accommodation and all meals). From February 15 to March 4. Maximum 80 participants. Details: agpworkshops.com

— Preeti T

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