Humanscapes Habitat

  • by Suhasini Ayer
  • /
  • 2021-03-09 16:00:00
  • /
  • International
  • /
  • 9240 / EN
  • Building Type : Collective housing > 50m
  • Construction Year : 2017
  • Delivery year : 2018
  • Address 1 - street : Humanscapes 605101 AUROVILLE, India
  • Climate zone : [Aw] Tropical Wet & Dry with dry winter.

  • Net Floor Area : 1 964 m2
  • Construction/refurbishment cost : 581 739 €
  • Cost/m2 : 296.2 €/m2

Proposed by :

  • Primary energy need :
    7.14 kWhpe/m2.year
    (Calculation method : Other )
Energy consumption
Economical buildingBuilding
< 50A
51 à 90B
91 à 150C
151 à 230D
231 à 330E
331 à 450F
> 450G
Energy-intensive building

This building was awarded the Sustainable Construction Grand Prize of the Green Solutions Awards 2020-21 at the national level; and a mention for the same category at the international level.

The “HUMANSCAPES HABITAT" is an applied research and demonstration project of Sustainable and Integrated Urban Living for bench marking in habitat as a course correction for a sustainable and harmonious mode of development, an imperative need in present global crisis of energy and climate change. This mixed-use development of residences, community and workspaces besides being sustainable also wants to address the issues of skill development and capacity building of construction labor, who are mostly distressed migrants in India, to improve their economic condition and reduce construction waste in the habitat sector to meet India’s commitment to IPCC. 

This habitat project has integrated five goals as part of the sustainable human settlement program:

• Sustainable built environment with solar passive building design coupled with efficient functional space layout to reduce the built-up area and use of low embodied energy building materials with cradle-to-cradle cycle with construction techniques that are low tech with lowered operational energy.

• Integrated environmental planning of water, energy and waste cycle, with zero-discharge of water, reduction and recycling of solid waste, water-efficient landscaping using local endemic species, and urban agriculture as edible gardens.

• Reducing point to point travel by integrating work and living spaces, using integrated community and IT infrastructure (ICITI) for work at home with clean mobility options like e- vehicles for movement within the local area.

• The human ecology, using the principles of “Cohousing” concept of living, facilitating interaction among neighbours for inclusive socioeconomic development with increased environmental benefits. A functional fusion the living, working, recreational and primary amenities allowing a multiplicity of space usage has allowed for over 15-20% in built up space reduction while the inhabitants to interact actively while working in the gardens and collective management of the food production and waste recycling.

• Establish a collaborative network of knowledge resources called ‘SustaiNet’ to facilitate further dissemination. This network will enable inter-institutional knowledge sharing and dissemination, a platform for academics, students and professionals to have an inclusive learning experience during and after completion of the project.

See more details about this project

Data reliability


Photo credit

Photo credit: Akshay Arora, Auroville Design Consultants, The Drone Zone
Video credit: Fred Cebron, Hemant Lamba


    Auropriya construction

Construction Manager

    Auroville Design Consultants

    +91 413 262 2784



    Auroville Design Consultants

    +91 413 262 2784

    Other consultancy agency

    Sunlit future



    Auroville Housing Service

Contracting method

General Contractor

Owner approach of sustainability

This project has been undertaken as an applied research & demonstration project in habitat to address the challenge of closing the housing gap in a country like India, with limited energy to produce building materials like steel and cement, supply operational energy for lighting and ventilation and potable water to the millions of homeless, especially in urban setting.

Our goal with this project is to demonstrate the use of local materials like earth and so-called waste materials from construction and industry could become a primary building material that is reliable and resilient, meeting building safety codes.

We had a one-day workshop with experts from across the country to review the present national building codes and set appropriate standards for the local climate and culture in site planning, rainwater management, open space planning including landscape, building envelope design, building materials and technology including embodied energy, operational energy use, potable water use, recycling of sewage and biological waste and introduce catalysts to bring about lifestyle change in occupants. The goal is with post occupancy data analysis to influence policy planners and decision makers to review the national building codes to make them context appropriate rather than being a uniform national regulation, especially for a country like India which has 4 distinct climatic zone with diversity of local building materials and skills.

In all the planning and design projects undertaken by Auroville Design Consultants the commitment to be context specific (climate, culture and economics) is the underlying theme, so we have undertaken and completed several green building projects, saying that it should be clear that we have never sought to get certification for any of our projects from either LEED India or Teri Griha as we firmly believe that building green should be the new “normal” and does not need recognition or certification as if it is extraordinary!

Architectural description

The architectural design of the housing clusters and each dwelling unit responds to the context. Located in a zone with extreme climates of long hot summers followed by heavy monsoons and with cyclonic storms, so the site topography for managing rainwater while preventing heat island was considered in the layout of the housing clusters. Even though trees and plants grow fast in tropical climates, conservation of existing trees and ground cover was key for preserving the percolation capacity of the soil, so the site plan ensured minimum disturbance. As the dwelling units are not air conditioned but cooled with a combination of fans and natural ventilation the functional space design layout within each apartment is in sync with the predominant day time land breeze and night-time sea breeze, for increased evaporative cooling on the body surface. The architectural design following the inherent wisdom of the vernacular forms with appropriate window overhangs to minimize heat gain via walls and windows, protection from the driving rain and reduced glare. The choice of building materials was based on 4 criteria: (1) locally available, (2) reuse of waste from construction and factories, (3) low embodied energy with low U value, and finally (4) low tech and low skills needed for assembly to have a higher labour to material ratio.

If you had to do it again?

If we had to re-do the same project, I would provide for more secondary semi-open transitional spaces between dwelling units to allow for informal interaction spaces and more private open spaces to encourage urban gardens for food growing. Inside the dwelling units, provide for more visual privacy as people live with open windows in hot humid climate limiting sound privacy. So, I would provide for more staggered openings of windows and doors in living and sleeping spaces.

Building users opinion

In the direct interviews carried out by the promoters of the project “Auroville housing service” 6 months after the apartments were occupied, the respondents were happy with the spaces provided both in terms of size and quality, the thermal comfort compared to outdoor temperature and humidity was also satisfactory and day lighting conditions were good. But several of them complained about the noise levels from neighbours, especially during the evenings and nights due to TV’s, loud conversations and music. Due to the high levels of humidity at the ground level in the night, the sound travels in the tropics and at present we do not have any tools to deal with it in building design without compromising on natural ventilation.

Energy consumption

  • 7,14 kWhpe/m2.year
  • 30,00 kWhpe/m2.year
  • Other

  • 7,14 kWhfe/m2.year
  • Hot water + ventilation + lighting = 7.14 kwh/m2

    Electricity consumption from July 2019 to June 2020 = 14019 kWh

Envelope performance

    Envelope is build with a mix of Poured Earth Concrete walls, Waste Cuddapha stone wall

Real final energy consumption

    14 019,00 kWhfe/m2.year


    • No heating system
    • Individual electric boiler
    • No cooling system
    • Natural ventilation
    • Solar photovoltaic
  • 115,00 %
  • The renewable energy system in the project is the use of photovoltaic system to generate electricity (16000 kWh) to the grid connected system.

    The project is in a coastal tropical zone with over 30°C daytime temperature and 50% RH for at least 300 days a year, the natural gain would be to trap, channel and enhance the flow of land and sea breeze within the dwelling units to ensure evaporation

Life Cycle Analysis

    Eco Design materials

    Walls : Poured Earth Concrete (PEC) wall, Waste Cuddapah stone wall

    Roofing: Brick vaults

    Floor insulation: Waste thermocol filling

    Flooring: Natural stone flooring, Indian Patent Stone (IPS)

    Compound walls: Rammed Earth walls

    Wood works: reclaimed wood

    46% of the global budget 

Water management

  • 58,11 m3
  • 52,00 m3

Indoor Air quality

    Naturally ventilated with no air filtering and circulating systeming

Health & Comfort

    The health and wellbeing of the residents is ensured by (1) the fact that they live closely with the diurnal rhythm including the cycle of seasons as metabolically human immune systems function best when it is in sync with the natural climatic conditions. (2) Instead of adopting ASHRE standards of climatic comfort, we work with adaptive comfort model which besides being less energy intensive, allows the natural evolutionary capacity of the human body to build up resilience and robustness. 

    Indoor temperatures calculations in winter/summer : maximum operating temperature during summer = 32.6 °C and minimum for winter = 26.8 °C, (natural ventilated buildings)


    Priya Cement

    Priya Cement

    [email protected]

    Gros œuvre / Structure, maçonnerie, façade

    Portland Pozzolana Cement

    JSW Neosteel


    +91 22 4286 1000

    Gros œuvre / Structure, maçonnerie, façade

    JSW Neosteel 550



    [email protected]

    Gros œuvre / Charpente, couverture, étanchéité

    Marine plywood


    Saint Gobain

    [email protected]

    Gros œuvre / Charpente, couverture, étanchéité

Construction and exploitation costs

  • 456 864,00
  • 9 054,42
  • 4 741
  • 528 374
  • 528 374

Urban environment

The project is in a green field site, part of the township under development, so as such there is no public transport except for school buses, and buses for elderly and differently enabled persons. Most people use cycles and motorcycles with only basic access to shops that all lie within 3 kms radius.

Due to a low density of population, decentralized system of water supply and sewage recycling has been provided for. The waste is segregated on site with composting on site for the biodegradable and off-site sorting facility for recycling and reuse. The project is located along what is envisaged to become the main urban spine with shops, galleries, workspaces and residences. Some social amenities like libraries and health and healing centres have been developed and are less than 100 meters from the site, while the main food coop with the community and the dining center is about 350 meters away. So, the project is already part of a network of social and collective interaction spaces.  

Land plot area

2 825,00 m2

Built-up area

49,00 %

Green space

1 443,00

Parking spaces

30 numbers: on site parking for 2 wheelers, Surface level covered parking
10 numbers: entrance 2 wheeler parking, 3 numbers : entrance 4 wheeler parking, surface level open parking for visitors

Building Environmental Quality

  • works (including waste management)
  • comfort (visual, olfactive, thermal)
  • water management
  • energy efficiency
  • renewable energies
  • building process
  • products and materials

Building candidate in the category

Energy & Hot Climates

Energy & Hot Climates

Low Carbon

Low Carbon

Health & Comfort

Health & Comfort

Green Solutions Awards 2020-2021

 Energy efficient
 Passive solar design
 energy efficiency
 health & confort
 materials and solutions
 low carbon

Author of the page

  • Suhasini Ayer

    Principal Architect

  • Other case studies



    Green Solutions Awards 2020-2021