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Gopalan Nair Shankar (born 29 May 1959) is an architect
from Kerala, India.
He has been awarded 2011 Padma Shri by Indian Govt.
He has also won the prize for the best architect in Kerala.

He advocates the use of locally available materials,

sustainability, eco-friendliness and cost effectiveness. He
has made path – breaking, original contributions in the
field of housing and architecture, by spearheading a
‘people’s housing movement ‘ based on cost effective,
sustainable and eco-friendly building technologies.
He is the Founder Chairman of Habitat Technology
Group Thiruvananthapuram, in 1985, (The largest Non-
Governmental Organization in the shelter sector in India,
committed to Sustainable Building Solutions & cost
His sensitivity to the needs of the common man, the marginalized, the fisher folk, the slum
dwellers and the tribal earned him the title of 'People's Architect'. "My most satisfying work
have been the homes I built for the fisher folk", says Shankar. Shankar finds contentment not
in building opulent structures but in constructing cost effective homes for all strata of the


Mud is environmentally the most sustainable material. Besides its eco friendly nature, its
easy availability makes it almost a 'no cost' material, abundantly present, generally on the
site itself. This cost-effective material is also energy efficient and can be used to produce
aesthetically very appealing structures. Its unique plasticity that allows it to be molded, its
texture and earthy feel lend its structures a certain timeless quality. Buildings made of mud
are also extremely comfortable, both in warm and cool weather, due to its thermal
characteristics. Conceptually the material can be used to combine traditional elements in a
contemporary context. The architecture strikes a subtle balance between technical
appropriateness on the one hand and modern standards of services and space organization
comforting to people on the other. To most people, however, to think of mud houses is at
once to think of decrepit and crumbling structures, possibly in a slum or similar setting with
the result that construction in mud is often dogged by a certain stigma. A greater
understanding of the possibilities of the material and the great strides it has made with
respect to application and use will enable a constructive redefining of its suitability for
different types of construction
Depending on the characteristics of the mud available, availability of supporting materials
and technology used, different manifestations of mud are used. These include Adobe or Sun-
dried bricks, Cob, Rammed earth, Pressed bricks, Wattle and Daub etc.
Every material has its own inherent drawbacks that do not allow it s ideal use in all
situations. As far as mud is concerned, its drawback is its susceptibility to moisture and
termites. Nearly all types of mud can be made into excellent building materials by a process
known as Stabilization.

•This is done by adding sand, cement, etc to mud.
•Stabilization helps in cementing the particles of mud together, thereby increasing its
•It also helps in decreasing its susceptibility to moisture.
•Stabilization reduces the shrinking and swelling of mud.

•The commonly used stabilizers are sand, clay, lime, cement, sodium silicate etc.
•Locally available materials like straw, coconut oil, cow dung, cattle urine etc are also used
for strengthening mud.

Features of Stabilized mud blocks

•Environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly material
•Cost- effective
•Energy efficient material
•20-30% cheaper than fired bricks
•Good stability
•Good resistance to hurricane and rain
•Suitable for all climates
•Low skill needed
•The technology involved is interesting and based on the self-help method.

Stage 1- Ascertaining the suitability of soil:

The suitability of the soil is checked by various tests such as Sedimentation test, Compaction
test, Ribbon test, Box test etc.

Stage 2- Mixing of stabilizer and selected soil and enough quantity of water:

The stabilizer should be mixed thoroughly with the selected soil, which has been previously
sieved and tested for organic matter and clumps. Add just enough water to make it

Stage 3- Mechanical process of compression:

The prepared earth is loaded into the mould box and the mix is compressed. The finished
product is ejected and gently removed. It is then placed on edge on the curing site.
Stage 4- Stacking and curing:

The proper curing of stabilized mud blocks is important for its stability. The blocks should dry out
as slowly as possible to avoid cracks etc. While curing, the blocks should be shaded. Cement
stabilized blocks should be sprinkled with water during the first few days. Curing time is around
two weeks. After that the bricks should be stacked in such a way that maximum air circulation is
facilitated. Dry storage should last at least two weeks.

Quality control
•Ascertain the suitability of the soil before use.
•Make sure that it is free from organic matter.
•Select the lowest amount of stabilizer that will make the blocks good enough to satisfy the
•All forms of mud are less prone to cracking if dried slowly in the shade and not in the strong
•After the blocks are made, they should be stacked in such a way as to facilitate maximum air


1. Habitat Technology Group Head Office, Trivandrum

Inside HTG head office

2. Pagoda Resorts Alleppey:

Pagoda Resorts is the all new addition to the fascinating silhouette of Alleppey
Pagoda is spread over a well-landscaped waterfront with manicured grassy lawns, stone-tiled
walkways, tall and swaying coconut palms and a charming ambiance that is essentially
"earthy" with a lot of browns and greens radiating a welcoming warmth very typical to Keralan
Homestads and setting off an sinstant urge to explore!.
The Pagoda is a form of oriental architecture, based on the mysticism of a balanced confluence
of life’s elements.

3.CCDB, Bangladesh:

Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) was formed in 1973, as a

national level voluntary organization, to complete the relief and rehabilitation work initiated in
1972, by Bangladesh Ecumenical Relief and Rehabilitation Services (BERRS), for responding to
the needs of the affected people during the war of independence in 1971 and to undertake
development interventions.
Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB)
4.EMS Academy
EMS Academy is an educational institution established by the Kerala State Committee of CPI
(M) in memory of veteran communist leader Com. E M S Nampoothiripad
b)BAMBOO - Poor Man's Steel:

The art of using Bamboos in day to day life has a history of more than 5000 years. Bamboo is
one of the inputs which are used for making daily utility items, for construction of houses and
buildings and for making furniture, compound fencing, small bridges, scaffoldings, etc.
Realising the gravity of material, Habitat, an NGO addressing innovation in the construction of
low cost houses for the last 23 years took up bamboo as one of the important building
materials and carry out need based Research and Development (R&D) to make optimum use of
Bamboo and to sharpen the skill of the craftsmen.

•Use of Bamboo and its value added products in building construction activities.
•Treating Bamboo to optimize its life and strength through various methods.
•Testing the strength and life of various varieties of Bamboo for various load bearing, thatching
and for the use of partition walls, staircase reelings, flooring and to replace steel rods and use
bamboo frame in minor RCC work.
•Experiments on Bamboo with environment friendly paints, varnish and colors.
•Sharpening the skill of Artisans & Craftsmen working with Bamboo and improvement of their
skill and design of products in association with Design Schools and Professionals.
•Making awareness campaign on the utility of Bamboo among prospective users. Developing
model buildings and encouraging Artisans to work on alternate Civil Engineering Designs. And
constructing Role Model Buildings for Social Change Agents, Artists, Senior Administrators, Film
personalities etc.
•Habitat use the following strategy for building appropriate partnership and to translate the above
•From its Net Surplus, Habitat deploys certain amount of resource to address regular activities
under its R&D.
•Overtime, it has developed a bank of Committed Professionals who dedicate their efforts for
translating the above objectives.
•As an NGO, it encourages the use of Bamboo by both Public and Private Sectors. For this purpose,
awareness creation campaigns through visual and print media are used.

Future Scope

There is large scope for widening the

use of bamboo both in urban and
rural area. There is also wider scope
for product diversification and use of
bamboo in different type of
construction. In the supply side,
farmers can be encouraged to
cultivate bamboo in less fertile land,
uncultivated land, bunds, canal and
road sides etc. Different variety of
cultivation practices prevail in India
under commercial cultivation. There
is a scope for identifying the best
practices, documentation and
replication of the same to the
farmers. There is also scope for
suitable pest treatments,
strengthening and to optimize the
life of bamboo used in various
activities. There is also scope for
further sharpening the skill of
Artisans and to strengthen the
Supply Chain of Bamboo and to
diversify the end products. Of late,
there is an increasing awareness
BAMBOO CENTRE- Kerala among the public for the use of
environment friendly inputs in
construction and to make utility items. Thus, there is better market for Bamboo products in
future. Habitat would like to address the opportunity. This is a mighty task and therefore, we
love to have supportive collaboration to address the following Agenda.
Furniture units in Bamboo
Some of his work: SHOW CASE
Institutional :

Armed Reserve Camp for Kerala Police at Trivandrum

Munnar Engineering College, Kerala