Yatin Pandya: An Architect Innovating for Inclusion and Sustainability

We went to visit Yatin Pandya of Footprints E.A.R.T.H, an architect noted for his career-long commitment to sustainability in cities as the head of research at the Vastu Shilpa Foundation for 20 years. His projects feature extensive use of recycled materials, participatory development and emphasis on low income and social infrastructure. His work is currently engaged in three directions: academic research, demonstration projects as applied research and dissemination.

Innovative projects. His projects illustrate many of the features that interest us most. As examples, the Environmental Sanitation Institute and the Manav Sadhna Activity Center illustrate the junction between design and the need for more sustainable building practices. In the second case, the building exemplifies the importance of social infrastructure in cities as one crucial part of making cities livable, even in informal settlements and slum areas. Not to mention that the use of recycled materials in community centers can also be used as a vehicle for youth environmental education.

Another interesting project in the works but not yet executed is a low cost housing project in Beawar, Rajasthan for SEWA, which would produce 700 units priced at Rs. 80,000/apt (USD 2,000 at Rs. 40/USD) so that the monthly payment would match most slum dwellers’ rent.  Mr. Pandya emphasized the importance of site planning, interactivity of process and social open space.

Recycled building materials. One of Mr. Pandya’s astonishing achievements is having identified, produced, tested and catalogued a whole range of recycled building materials, many of which on display in his projects. The argument is compelling: India produces 24.7 mn tons of urban/solid waste per day. Building products can be made from a whole range of products, many of which would be appropriate for affordable building materials. Not only do these materials result in lower pollution but they also increase employment. Many of the materials result in better building materials performance, like reflective roof tiles for cool roofs.

We were delighted to meet another great Indian innovator and again encouraged by the prospect of partnering with people like Mr. Pandya who have already tested and implemented these innovations but require some business acumen to take an idea from design to development.

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