Sustainable architecture, ancient Indian tradition

Sustainable architecture, ancient Indian tradition

28th August 2021

Living with nature is an integral part of all ancient culture, including India. This is evident from various religious practices, cultures, and traditions. Rituals; art and sculpture; and folk tales still exist in different ways in everyday life in India. Concerns about the need for environmental protection and sustainable development, which began with the Stockholm Conference on the Environment (1992) and the United Nations Conference on the Earth (1992), have new origins in India’s environmental protection practices, culture, and long traditions. Tracing ancient Indian documents, we can find countless references to environmental management, conservation, and protection. In addition to ancient texts, from an archaeological point of view, the presence of town planning, drainage systems and advanced water management techniques in the Indus-Saraswathi civilization testifies to the importance given by the ancients. Live in harmony with the natural environment.

Archaic green buildings

The United Nations Commission for Environmental Development declares that to be sustainable to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations, to meet their own needs, especially with regards to use and waste of natural resources.” In recent decades more and more green buildings have been designed to synchronize with sustainable environmental development. The idea behind these green buildings is not new and it is interesting to note that they have been around for a long time. Efficient use of available natural resources and avoidance waste. Site specific and unique materials are used to keep the house warm. It will be cool depending on the region. The climate, the complex water supply and drainage systems are built using readily available natural resources.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves, forming a series of 29 caves. Ancient Indian stone carving. It shows how the architects of the time made optimal use of the available natural resources. The vaulted ceilings of these stone-cut caves feature bay windows that naturally illuminate the chapel. The Ajanta Caves, unlike other caves, were specifically designed to have low ceilings, high chapel temperatures, and the ability to move around the surrounding cells containing cold water. This warm air cools naturally, cooling the entire cave.

Material usage

Another popular natural building material from prehistory and antiquity is Cobb, a mixture of fibrous materials such as water, soil, and straw. Mud walls have excellent thermal mass, and the combination of thatched roofs and mud walls creates a home that is warm and well insulated in cold environments. Looking at the old traditional houses throughout Lahore and the Spiti Valley, one can see that they are mud houses, flat roofs covered with local grass, keeping the heat for a long time. A famous example of such a mud-built structure is the Tabo Mud Monastery, built in AD 996. Structures built in the torch are also known to be primarily earthquake resistant. Soil is another material that has long been used in housing construction and is widely used in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries.

Circles of ice forming a dome-shaped house commonly known as an igloo have been used by the Eskimos for centuries and are one of the most ecological and sustainable structures. The compact ice block acts as an insulator and keeps it warm under the dome at around 32 degrees Celsius. The low tunnel leading to the igloo helps retain heat inside and the top vent helps vent hot air to avoid that the ice cubes melt.

Bamboo is highly regarded today as a sustainable and environmentally friendly building material and has long been used in India and China. Bamboo, which is waterproof, has excellent hardness and tensile strength, has been used since ancient times to build bridges and houses.


Badgirs is an ancient technique for keeping the interior of a building cool and is popular in hot and dry areas. In this case, the building has a wind tower with an opening that allows cold air to pass directly from the ground and keeps the living room cool underground. The hot air that rises upwards is conveyed into the upper hole and exits. The same airflow tower technology is also used in tanks in hot, dry areas, where evaporative cooling keeps water close to freezing, even in the summer. Such cooling towers are still found in parts of the Middle East and Rajasthan.


Another example of sustainable and environmentally friendly architecture are the ancient and medieval steps or baoli that can be found all over India. Baolis is a well-constructed man-made step as a source of groundwater and has played an important role in water conservation. As is more common in western India, Baoli supplies water to the village for drinking, bathing, washing and irrigation, especially during times of seasonal water scarcity. Characteristics common to all types of baoli are usually floors with vertical steps or columns and stairs that bring the water below the highest level (mainly fresh groundwater). The baoli were also used for various ritual and religious purposes, and the shady pavilion was used as a refuge during the summer. People on the Indian subcontinent have always been involved in collecting water, and this is clear from the progress. This is evident from the sophisticated and elaborate water management created by the people of Harapan. Examples of India’s oldest water management have been found at several Harappa sites since prehistoric times. Different reservoirs are found in different locations like Dholavira, Bananaware, Calibangan, interconnected series of reservoirs, storage tanks, sewers, public and private wells, thermal spas, dams, docks (rotal), the system shows the excellence of. Management at that time. Harappa was also a skilled contractor of various types of overhead hydroelectricity and was the first to dig wells and use groundwater.

Our ancestors were not experiencing a shortage of natural resources at the time, but it is wonderful to recognize the efforts they made to conserve these resources for the generations to come. However, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, overfishing of natural resources began, traditional customs completely collapsed, and an atmosphere of sustainability was established so that people can live in harmony with nature.


Hawa Mahal in Jaipur is so named because it has over 950 protruding holes known as Jharokhas. This is a smart way to naturally improve air circulation in a building without compromising privacy.


Roshandan is a notable feature of a number of homes in northern India. These vents are on a high wall, usually above a window, so they can be left open to allow hot air just below the ceiling to escape and relatively cold air inside to rise. up. During the winter, they remain closed and are only used for natural light.


Jaali is an architectural element that uses the dynamics of the environment to create comfort in life. It is wire mesh and often has decorative patterns. The airspeed increases as you pass through the narrow openings, so even in the weakest winds outside, the Jarli Shield creates a good air flow. These holes also allow sunlight to be free of glare.

High Ceilings

The science behind older buildings with high ceilings is that warm air rises and is exhausted from the exhaust fans, thereby cooling the interior.

Sustainability – In tandem with Nature

Ancient civilizations believed that the processes of the universe were directly influenced by human existence. With this understanding, ancient human civilizations have always respected nature and lived in harmony with it. Ancient architecture appears to have adopted sustainable construction techniques centuries before the word “sustainable” became a well-known concept. Indian architecture is a thousand of year-old reservoir with beautiful green architecture and engineering. Therefore, by replacing modern energy-intensive technologies with completely new ones, we will study old development solutions and combine them with modern innovations for greater efficiency. Better and meaningful results need to be achieved in sustainable architecture.

Digital Twin Technology

Today, with the advent of technology we are able test your building model, depending on the local climate and the factors that affect it. The efficient use of nature and other resources requires the application of modern software. That includes suggestions on west-facing glass walls, application of high and expensive air conditioning systems, heavy curtains to resist excessive heat and light. AC load can certainly be greatly reduced by improving building planning and opening design, helping to reverse global warming. Most water saving technologies are still relevant today. In addition to heritage technology courses, software is available today to help preserve the materials used in buildings. Alternative energy production systems can be used to save fossil fuels. Modern structures have managed to bring out the landscape at the highest level to satisfy the psychological and environmental aspects.

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