At the edge of the Sasan Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India, d6thD design studio has completed Aaranya, an agricultural farmstay that pays homage to the rural vernacular and Mother Nature. Crafted with a small carbon footprint, the building adopts low-tech systems, such as passive solar orientation and terracotta roofing, to minimize energy usage. The use of local construction techniques also helped stimulate the economy by employing nearby villagers and craftspeople.

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stone home with terracotta roofs

Completed in January 2019, Aaranya comprises a series of buildings, each consisting of two attached cottages topped with gabled terracotta-tiled roofs that help offset the monsoon seasons’ heavy rainfall and intense heat in summer. Carefully set amidst the mango trees, the low-profile cottages blend into the lush landscape and look as if they were “planted” on site. The east-west orientation of the buildings also helps minimize heat gain and takes advantage of the cooling breezes from the adjacent agricultural field.

Related: A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailand’s hottest regions

brick home with a domed roof
wood tables and benches in a covered pavilion

“Rather [than] spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, we have came up with a simple, established and honest approach inspired by the vernacular architecture,” the architects explained. The use of terracotta, for instance, helps evoke the image of traditional Indian village architecture that has been built from the earthy material for generations.

bed in large room with brick wall and gabled ceiling
plants growing up a terracotta roof

Over time, the tiled roofs will be covered in creeping plants and, as a result, the building will “virtually disappear” once the roof is fully vegetated. In addition to terracotta roof tiles, the architects also looked to traditional construction techniques for the rubble stone-packed foundation, load-bearing exposed natural sandstone walls and the brick dome, which features a mosaic and a window wall of recycled glass bottles. The architects noted, “Every effort has been made to ensure that the cottages remain true to its context and testifies itself to the norms of vernacular architecture.”

+ d6thD design studio

Photography by Inclined Studio via d6thD design studio

aerial view of cottages with terracotta roofs on a farm