The Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Center (SUHRC) in Lavale, Pune, was awarded the “Supreme Winner” award at the prestigious 2021 Surface Design Awards, London, recently. One of the UK’s leading awards, it focuses on the design of interior and exterior surfaces in buildings to showcase the innovative use of materials. For Mumbai-based IMK Architects, it was one that deserved it, given the extensive R&D they did on compressed stabilized earth bricks (CSEBs).
They had won a competition to design an international university for clients, Symbiosis Society, and subsequently began using CSEB as a material in 2005. They chose it over baked bricks due to its low carbon footprint, structural strength and its toxin. -free maintenance. Unlike fired clay bricks that used timbre, CSEB does not require fire, but moist soil under high pressure to form blocks. These are usually composed of dry inorganic subsoil, non-expansive clay, aggregates and cement. It has been used in buildings from France to Egypt, from Somalia to Mexico. Also in India, these naturally compressed earth bricks have had their moment in the sun.
“We wanted to make a green campus and we not only wanted to minimize heat gain or take advantage of daylight, but we also wanted a material where the incorporated energy was very low. We visited the Auroville Earth Institute which had already been doing extensive research on the material and we wanted to use something that was hyperlocal, and what better way than to use the soil of the earth, ”says Rahul Kadri, partner and lead architect at IMK Architects.
The awards jury had this to say: “This is a really beautiful solution that uses local materials and labor. The façade is significant, not only decorative, but it provides shade from the sun. “
“Although our clients did not accept it initially, when the project came to an end, they saw the difference it made. One of our engineers spent three months experimenting with various mixes to get the right brick. We did soil sample studies and learned everything we could about the material, ”says Kadri.
Not only is the building strategically positioned to minimize cut-and-fill of the hill site, the company also created a balance between light and shade with proper skylights, interior courtyards, and terraced gardens, making the hospital a space. biophilic that promotes healing.
“Since 2005, we have also been using this material in other buildings on campus. We wanted to make the material sing. We were curious to know how light reflected and began to experiment with facades. The Hunnarshala Foundation, based in Bhuj, also helped us understand brick. They suggested we try corbelling and giving it a faceted edge. All of this was born out of the desire to use materials that were green, beautiful and could be made quickly, ”says Kadri. So it was!
In a year and a half, the first phase was completed and the second phase with 600 beds was completed in eight months. It had six lakh square feet of space, making almost 5,000 bricks a day. “A bricklayer who trained with us since 2005 became a supervisor and also trained others,” says Kadri, who is busy building universities, libraries, resorts and housing projects.