For passive cooling of your home

Ventilated filler roofVentilated filler roof

The design behind ventilated cavity filler roof. By architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

Global warming is happening much earlier than ever predicted, at which rate we may leave nothing for our future generations. While it is mandatory on all of us to reduce our consumptions, wastages, trash generation and such other measures, it is equally important to devise ways of comfortable living without depending upon energy and electricity.

Cavity roofs have been a part solution towards passive cooling, with embedding clay pots, hollow filler tiles and such others. However, during extreme summers even the hollow clay tiles are becoming less effective.

Heat gets transferred through conduction and convection, the former through solid materials and the latter through voids and spaces. When the building terrace receives direct sun rays, it gets heated up and starts to pass the heat downwards into the room below. Even the voids inside the hollow clay filler roof would let heat go through it, for this trapped air also gets heated with the surface heat being very high. In other words, the present day hollow clay filler roofs will let heat transfer through both the processes of conduction and convection, the void being a sealed one.

In case the trapped air inside the void which gets heated up is not sealed, but move across to let cool air in, then the heat transfer would somewhat reduce. This can be achieved by inserting a small length of electrical conduit pipe between the voids of the hollow clay filler blocks, which are embedded within the RCC roof.

Once all the blocks are in place, small length of pipes are inserted such that their ends are within the void of the filler block. It is not a continuous end-to-end pipe, which serves no purpose at all, but short connections between the voids. As the air inside the void gets heated up, it moves along the pipes to equalise the heat all over the filler block. At the edge block, this hotter air moves out of the block itself, while cooler air enters the voids from the other end.

Between the two outside edges of the slab, one would have breeze called windward direction and the other end will not have much air movement, called leeward direction. Air moves from windward to leeward directions, in the process pushing out the hot air accumulated inside all the voids of the filler roof. This would reduce the heat gain inside the room.

The ends are finished with slight bend to block rain water. Pipe pieces should not move so much that their end is within the tile gap which gets filled by concrete, in which case the continuous air movement will get blocked. All that the builder contractor has to oblige is let a few helpers insert the pipes, which is fairly fast. It’s a one-time investment of time and effort, to achieve passive cooling of slightly higher order.

The Hindu

Every breath you take

Every breath you take may not be cleaner than the air outside. With the issue of air pollution making the news every day, are we really safe in the confines of our homes?

As you step out in the morning on your way to work, you can’t help, but notice the thick blanket of smog over the city. You rush to work so you can get into the safety of your air-conditioned office. But is the air in your office any better?

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Delhi and Cairo have the worst PM10 pollution levels out of the world’s megacities. The study further reveals that indoor air pollution contributes between 22 and 52 percent to the overall pollution levels.

Barun Aggarwal, CEO, Breathe Easy Consultants, opines that while the composition of indoor air is different from outside air quality, it can be equally harmful. “Air pollution is dynamic. In India, Particulate Matter (PM) is extremely high in most cities. And since most of us spend almost 90 percent of our time indoors (office, schools, home), the risk of getting exposed to it is high.”

A WHO study states that air pollution is responsible for the deaths of seven million people worldwide each year; most of them residing in Asia and Africa. Of the seven million, 3.8 million were from indoor air pollution ( due to cook stoves), which is a huge problem in India.

Indoor quality is determined by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), bio-aerosols and nitrous oxides (cooking gas), and is also influenced by pollution caused by vehicles and industrial plants. Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) air pollution programme explains, “The main culprits are VOCs that may be released by various sources including paints, glues, resins, polishing materials, and furnishings as well as a lack of proper ventilation and breeding of moulds. Hence, it is important to pay attention to the materials we use indoors since the ability to avoid pollution here is in our hands.”

The Centre introduced several measures and programmes to improve air quality indoors.

One such initiative was providing around 37 million poor women with free gas connections to encourage them to switch from coal/dung-fired clay ovens to cooking gas. However, in an urban setting, it is not just cooking that we need to worry about.

Rajat Malhotra, COO for IFM in West Asia and head of JLL points out, “CO2 levels in our bedrooms are more than six times the CO2 levels outside. Air quality within our office/ workspaces and rooms is much unhealthier. Till the WHO report was published, we were kept blinkered and blindfolded for so many years. Today, people want to know what is happening.” However, Roychowdhury asserts that built-in design intervention in buildings is a critical aspect.

“It is essential to pay a lot more attention to the architectural and building design, and it should become a part of the building by-laws to ensure that they meet the health indicators associated with the indoor air quality,” she explains, adding that despite guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board, there is still no active implementation.

On the same note, Sujatha Ganapathy, VC – WELL AP, Knight Frank India, concludes, “At the government level, better transportation and construction methods will help control pollution levels. That means using low VOC content in buildings, and reducing the creation of dust in constructions, which is classified as PM10 and can cause a wide range of health problems including respiratory illnesses.”

Solutions:Use a dehumidifier and/ or air conditioner to reduce moisture;

Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests;

Minimise air freshener use;

Ensure that exhaust fans are functional in your bathrooms andkitchen;

Avoid scented candles;

Keep plants indoors, which can significantly reduce indoor air pollution;

Using LPG instead of biomass fuel for cooking can significantly reduce the level of indoor
pollution.

Deborah Pereira, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Five décor mistakes to avoid – 360 Property Management

Five décor mistakes to avoid

Chennai

1. Matching-matching

Matching your décor with your accessories gives it a well-rounded look, but do not go overboard. Break the pattern or add an accent colour. If you are planning to opt for a nude colour palette, add colours that pop by incorporating colourful cushions or a solid colour carpet or even a few vases.

2. Over accessorising

Do not go overboard with the accessories and use only those you need. Too many elements in the house can make it look cluttered and eat into your space.

3. Fake greenery

Fake flowers and plants don’t add much to the room. They accumulate dust and aren’t as aesthetically-pleasing as real flowers. Instead, opt for real flowers and plants as they make your space look alive, provide a lingering fragrance and help purify the air. You can also incorporate a fruit bowl as the center-piece on your table. The natural colours add life to the table and you will always have a healthy snack at hand at all times.

4. Lacking personality

Not adding enough elements to personalise your home may end up making it look like an apartment. The home may also lack the welcoming and homely vibe. Add a few pictures, display your awards, paintings or wall hangings that you may have taken up as a hobby, or show off your guitar in a corner. The point here is to not be perfect, but make your imperfections a part of your home.

5. Pushed to the wall

This is a common setup that can be observed in an ideal Indian home. Give that a break; arrange the furniture in a different way; move your couch and chair to the centre and add a rug beneath it, thus creating a seating area for conversations. Opt for a table, which is the same height as your couch and place it behind the couch; now you have an additional table-top, which also hides the back of your couch.

Pooja Mahimkar, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

A century-old residence gets a makeover in Chennai

Art of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon DaruwalaArt of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon Daruwala

A century-old residence gets a makeover, yet retains its glory at the hands of architect Husna Rahaman who deftly plays with hues and patterns. By Nandhini Sundar

When faced with a century-old residence or even one that is half the age, the immediate reaction is to demolish and develop the site or build a fabulous contemporary dwelling, money and space permitting. Restoring such a building to its former glory is beyond the radar, especially given the economics behind such an initiative. The state of the structure and the lifestyle the interior facilities offer, further promote this inclination.

Old living room

Old living room

Yet, one such stately colonial residence came up, not for being rebuilt, but for restoration, keeping intact the fibre of the structure while infusing just the right level of contemporary comforts.

When architect Husna Rahaman of Fulcrum Studio was given the century-old sprawling 7,000 sq. ft colonial home for restoration, the structure essentially a no-nonsense load-bearing piece of engineering that cannot be tampered with on whim, she realised that strategic alterations, if any, could happen only where absolutely necessary.

New-look living area

New-look living area

The entire restoration thus occurred on a delicate balance of reverence and relevance, the regal aura retained while the modern functional quotient was brought in where relevant.

Profusion of hues, patterns

In tune with the era it related to, the residence came with its accompanying hues and patterns that literally saturated the spaces, the patterned antique floor and wall tiles engulfing the ambience. Without shunning this past grandeur, Rahaman set about managing deftly the play of hues and patterns where they would enchant and refresh, without submerging the senses.

Porch after restoration

Porch after restoration

“It was literally a riot of colours and this base was used as a spring board to complement the residence where it is not eliminated but used to balance”, she explains. Keeping this intent in perspective, an elegant network of wood verticals and horizontals were brought in to frame the length and breadth of the expansive living area. A new set of chandeliers were added, yet the design of these were kept deliberately colonial in keeping with the structure.

The rich flooring was retained, along with the porcelain tile dadoing on the walls, both in the living area as well as rest of the residence. A refreshing contemporary twist was brought into the space by introducing metal motifs on the walls, the motifs reflecting the existing patterns. While the walls and ceiling continue to accommodate the wooden columns and beams, a reminder of the colonial past, the contemporary flavour wafts into the spaces through concealed lights and metal motifs.

Contemporary upgrade

The living area reveals the presence of two groups of furniture, each connected by a large back-to-back sofa cluster. The unusual blend of materials and styles seen in the living area and carried methodically into the rest of the residence, where luxury is paired with minimalism and exquisite Indian crafts tie in seamlessly with streamlined forms, reveals a reverential contemporary upgrade of a glorious past.

Lovely library

Lovely library

While the strong imperial character of the structure has been reverentially retained, the spaces have been infused with warmth to address the home it ultimately is. This has been successfully achieved through application of soft roses on the walls, neutral colours with subtle pops of colour in the rugs, strips of wallpaper and cushions in shades of pink and orange.

Likewise, the spatial poetry of the house, an element lacking in modern crowded structures, has been preserved to integrate the multiple rooms, where the past meets the present, opening the spaces to surreal vistas.

Infusing metal

Given the era of the residence, metal does not figure in its construction. Yet, a contemporary twist has been brought in by infusing metal craftily into the stately space, lightening the palette. The floral medallion in the living area serves as a symbolic confluence of the metallic motifs used in the rest of the residence. Metal also features as an artistic railing for the staircase, replacing the previous cement and brick staircase. The terrace further reveals a stunning dark grey metal gazebo to unwind and relax, besides serving as an entertainment zone when need arises.

Sun room

The first level of the building came with narrow spaces, yet the interiors were filled with abundant natural light. Rahaman decided to capture this effectively to create a sunny library. “The room came with its quota of colours and patterns like the rest of the house and the space was converted into a turquoise library with a western exposure by merely introducing rugs into the space.”

The ‘sun room’ reveals rugs in intense hues of ochre and turquoise blue, soaked in geometric patterns where they define the floor, with the turquoise blue and wood verticals on the walls complementing the same. Vibrant in conception, the space greets with a burst of exuberance, the twin daybeds created between the columns further enhancing with their presence.

Source The Hindu

Space for festive cheer

Space for festive cheer

Chennai

On occasions, have you ever felt like you are being held back by something and do not have the energy to succeed in what you wish to pursue? There could be many reasons for such a feeling to exist in a home, but from the Feng Shui point of view, the primary cause could be clutter. Clutter is stagnant and confusing energy that drains you out. The area where the clutter exists in your home is said to have a negative influence and blocks the flow of events pertaining to specific areas in your life.

Most people hate to accept that they have accumulated clutter, while some avoid clearing it up because it calls for effort and time. But the real reason is that clearing clutter is an emotional process and requires a lot of emotional stamina too;

The benefits of clearing clutter, both, of the living space and mental clutter by adapting Feng Shui ensures that you don’t get burdened in the long-run;

Most often, the areas which are prone to stagnation and clutter are the main door or entrance area, kitchen and bedroom;

The entrance of your house gets most of the energy nourishment, and in Feng Shui, it is called the mouth of Chi (energy). Hence, provide a visual relief to your main entry. Discard or move any objects such as the recycle bins from full view, old, unused or broken pots, dust bins, etc;

In the kitchen, clear out the refrigerator, clean the stove and all the pots and pans. Clean out all the drawers and wipe the light fixtures clean. In Feng Shui, the state of your kitchen is the state of your health, especially the liver. So do your health a favour and clean up that kitchen;

Next look at your bedroom; clear the clutter under the bed. Thoroughly clear and clean your closets. Let go of as many items as possible that you have not used in a long time and give away to charity;

Once you have been able to identify and de-clutter your space, you can bring in a spot of freshness and a breath of life by adding lush green plants or a water feature in the east sector of your living room or entrance. Alternatively, if you cannot have plants or a water feature in your space, bring the energy of the certain Feng Shui elements with the colour green or brown or with artwork depicting either a body of water or lush greenery;

Remember, no amount of wind chimes, good Feng Shui colours, water features or Feng Shui plants will negate the depressing energy of clutter in a home. So, focus on decluttering and you will surely see positive changes soon.

SBS Surendran, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

How to find some extra space in your home – 360 Property Mgmt

How to find some extra space in your home

Chennai

Are all your closets and drawers already way too occupied? Irrespective of how big your home is, some extra space is always a boon. Most homes overlook spaces that would be ideal for storage. Here’s how you can find that space in your home.

While growing up, weren’t you enticed by stories of secret nooks and hidden compartments in homes and attics mentioned in your favourite mystery books and movies?

These days, however, with living spaces in the city getting smaller, hidden spaces have become a necessity. They take care of the extra stuff and make your home appear clutter-free. Here are a few ways through which you can incorporate some secret storage spaces in your home. The target here is to utilise your visible space for storage without making it look like a storage space.

Raghav Kapur, Region Head – South India, SILA gives us a few hidden storage ideas:

Under the bed and headboard – With rolling bin and drawers, the area under the bed can be utilised for off-season clothes and footwear. The headboard too can be used for multi-storage purposes; above the toilet – Install a traditional medical cabinet or hang a wicker basket to store your towels or toiletries. Hang it right above the toilet seat;

Inside the cabinet doors – Install hooks on the inside of your cabinet doors, which can be used to hang utensils and measuring cups in the kitchens, cleaning supplies in the bathrooms and clothes in the bedroom;

Corner of the walls – The corners of walls are spaces that are usually overlooked. They can be capitalised on by adding a shoe rack, book table, or a cabinet for electronics. This can be done for every room in the house.

Gita Ramanan, Co-founder and Designer of Design Café helps us with the pros and cons of hidden storage spaces

Pros:

You can hide valuables and important documents; an intelligent way to organise spaces and give the illusion of a clutter-free home; for families with children it helps store their toys and can also be utilised to keep a few things out of their reach.

Cons:

Hidden spaces have to be customised into your furniture and may not meet the space expectations; they tend to be a bit unwieldy and might not be very handy in an emergency; you may end up cluttering the home in order to store more. Make a design plan and follow it to make your home look organised as well as attractive.

DIY ideas to create storage spaces

Staircase

Use removable ply or drawers to make storage spaces under each step;

Tuck-into innovations

Use pullouts and pushaway furniture for those units, which don’t have high utility;

Furniture storage

Opt for storage ottomans and closet cradles to turn your functional items into storage spaces. You can also build a drawer under your dining table; this way all your cutlery items would be where you require them. You can also do this under you coffee/ centre-table and use it to store remote controls, magazines, etc;

Floating shelves

Incorporate floating shelves with drawers under them on one of the walls of the room. You can utilise the shelf to display books, artifacts or plants;

Wall cavities

Make sure you have all the permission required to make cavities in your wall. These cavities can be used to store a variety of things. Just add a photo frame over it to cover up the hole in the wall.

Slides next to the kitchen counter

A sliding vertical drawer next to the kitchen counter or kitchen can be used to store spices or utensils. A similar drawer next to the wardrobe can be used to store dupattas, neck ties, socks and much more.

Pooja Mahimkar, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Fancy painting the walls of your house and making it a fun family activity

Wall to action

Chennai

Fancy painting the walls of your house yourself and making it a fun family activity? We tell you how you can achieve just that.

Movies have a way of making us wish we were a part of it. Everyday mundane events are portrayed so well in movies that we wish our usual routine was half as fun as them. A scene where the protagonist is moving into a new home is often glamourised with a happy song set to a montage of happy things; tasks like colouring your home also seem like a cakewalk. Don’t we all want to have a fun weekend painting a statement wall with friends, just the way Ranbir Kapoor and Konkana Sen Sharma did in Wake up Sid? It’s not entirely unachievable after all.

Gather your friends, order in some pizza and follow the steps given below to get a new look for your home.

Hemil Parikh, Founder, Elysium Abodes LLP, provides us with a step-by-step guide on how to paint your home yourself:

Steps:

1. Find out what kind of paint is currently on your wall. You will have to apply the same type of paint when you are colouring it. If you wish to apply a different type of paint, then first sand and remove the current paint and then continue with the new;

2. Move the furniture away from the walls. You should ideally move them to the other room or gather them in the centre of the room you are painting. Cover your furniture as well as your floor to avoid getting any paint on them;

3. Clean the walls by using large cellulose sponge and a water solution blended with a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid;

4. Ensure that you have thoroughly cleaned the wall to wipe out any kind of dirt or grease. Always check whether the previous paint is removed in order to avoid chalking / flaking of paint;

5. Make sure you do appropriate sanding of the wall with emery paper, so that you have a smooth surface to receive the paint;

6. Keep all your supplies and tools handy. You will need rollers, paint brushes, a spare apron (to prevent stains on your clothes) and a canvas cloth. Include a mask, which will prevent you from inhaling the strong odour from paint;

7. Using a blue painter’s tape, safeguard all the areas that you do not wish to paint. Door knobs, window and door frames, mouldings etc should be covered with the tape;

8. Dip the roller into the primer; slowly roll it back and forth across the ridges of the tray a couple of times in order to eliminate the excess colour and to prevent drips. Once the roller is evenly coated, run it up and down on the wall section. Apply primer evenly on the wall;

9. After the primer coat, it is time for the actual paint, which should be done over two-three coats depending upon the finish to be achieved. It is advisable to keep a plucker handy in order to remove any sediment / flying dust that might settle on the wet paint. It is advisable to check the walls under proper light before the application of the top coat in order to achieve the optimum finish;

10. Use the brushes along the edges and corner while you can use the rollers to paint the wall;

11. Check if the wall is painted evenly and if the finish is fine;

12. Allow it to dry;

13. An important tip for users to follow is to ensure they peel off the tape while the paint is still wet to avert accidentally eliminating any dried paint along with it;

14. And there you have just painted your own home! Step back and enjoy the moment.

Pooja Mahimkar, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

For a home makeover – 360 Property Mgmt

For a home makeover

Teja Lele Desai gives us eleven tips for a quick and easy home re-do

If you groom and style yourself as the season turns, doesn’t your home, your haven, deserve a styling session too? We let you in on 11 décor secrets that every stylist worth his or her salt knows but won’t tell you.

#1 The statement piece

There’s no need for a multitude of things in every room. It only results in the eye going all over and finding no focus. Just one statement-making piece does the trick.

#2 Scale with height

Use artefacts and accessories of varying heights to create a sense of scale and proportion. A statuesque floor lamp, a vase with overhanging branches or a small sculpture on a table can create a new look.

#3 Get some trays

Every table or counter has things that seem to run away from you —cosmetics in the bathroom, remotes on the coffee table and odds and ends in the entryway. Keep things together by putting them all in a stylish tray.

#4 Tea towel tales

Apart from drying-up duties, a tea towel may be used for various odd jobs in the kitchen — to spread over cooked food, cover a tea tray or mop up a mess. Pick up good looking ones and use them to add style to the kitchen.

#5 Mixed throw pillows

The throw pillows on your couch should never be the same size. Mix them up when it comes to shapes, sizes and textures to add colour and depth to your sofa styling. Odd numbers tend to look better than even.

#6 The Rule of 3

There’s a reason why the third rule is the adhered to by designers across the world. When things come in threes — be it photo frames, candles or nesting tables — they tend to look better as a group.

#7 Kitchen counter

Sure you scrub and keep it as clean as you can. But we’re referring to keeping the counter top free. So tuck away as many appliances as you can into the cabinets or wall-mount them. A cleaner counter top gives you the illusion or an airy kitchen.

#8 Put out white towels

They may be a pain to keep clean — yes, we feel it too — but there’s nothing like fresh and fluffy white towels to inject a spa-like feel into your bathroom. But make sure you keep these white babies white.

#9 Not too many

Instead of a riot of colours that seems to take you all over the place, do as the stylists do: Select a monochromatic scheme and add pops of colour. This gives you a cleaner look, one that can be changed more often.

#10 Add little touches

Simple additions and touches can add more style than big-ticket pieces. A fresh flower in a group of vases, a pretty plant in a brass planter, a comfortable throw placed on the back of the couch — small touches can elevate your styling.

#11 Less is more

When in doubt, remember that less is always more. If you can’t think of what to do to make your room look better, consider paring it down.

Space it out – for space crunch

Intelligent planning, while building, renovation and even while making cosmetic changes to one’s home, is the best way to deal with a space crunch.

When it comes to real estate, space is a luxury. And one that not everybody can afford. Small apartments, although quite popular among buyers as well as builders, seem to be grappling with the issue of space.

Smaller apartments definitely have plenty of takers. Whether it is the increase in the floating population of Chennai, or the space crunch that is the bane of every big city; whether you picked a small house because it is your first real estate investment or simply because a small apartment fits your requirements, the bottom line is that a little more space is always welcome.

According to Vijay Rajan, an architect, making the most of the space available to all comes down to intelligent planning. Even the smallest of houses can be more spacious than they look, if planned intelligently. “Small homes are mostly part of apartment buildings where the home owner does not have much say in the basic frame of the house. But that should not deter one from making the best of the space available to them,” he says. For small houses, functionality of space is paramount and hence special attention needs to be given to various aspects of building to ensure this. Even when the overall area is not as much as one would like, there are quite a few ways the space crunch can be addressed at the time of construction itself. “For smaller houses, one needs to ensure that the flow of the house is compact and efficient. There can be absolutely no unutilised spaces in the house. One way to do this is to give functionality to all the odd spaces in the house. Also, thinner walls inside the house can add a precious few inches to the overall area,” he adds. The basic layout, the design, the reusability of space, use of lighter colours and maximising natural light, are some of the basic things to keep in mind.

Although the best way to go about increasing space efficiency is to work with the idea right from the planning stage, it might not always be possible. Today, the real estate sector is giving abundant thought to space efficiency. However, residential units constructed in the past continue to struggle with the minimal space they started out with. “In most existing homes, renovating can increase usable space to a great extent. Simple things like breaking down half the wall between the kitchen and dining area not only increases the open area but also brings into play an extra platform that can provide functional usage to both the segments,” says Nivetha B, principal architect. For a long time, the idea of renovating consisted mostly of covering up the balcony space so that it became part of the room, thereby increasing internal space. Although this does make sense, there are better ways to do it. “When you decide to cover up a balcony or verandah, you are reducing the outdoor space of the house which in turn actually reduces the feeling of space rather than increasing it. What one could do instead, is to take in the balcony but instead of c overing it up completely, install wall-to-wall windows. This ensures enough natural light and exposure to the outdoors in such a way that you don’t feel boxed in,” she adds.

Use of multi-purpose furniture is also a sure shot way to make your home accommodate more than it could. “Dual usage is a great idea for smaller homes since any space can be tweaked according to personal needs and requirements. There is a lot of variety in terms of space-saving furniture that is available these days. Intelligent use of such furniture can help the hall double up as a second bedroom and the bedroom could be used as a study or office during the day, increasing usable space,” says Arun Nagappan S, a senior designer.

Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai