Surwahi Social Building Structure – Design & Material

What is SMB (Stabilized Mud Block)?
SMBs are used for the construction of buildings and structures. The unique thing about this building material is that it is made from damp soil. The soil is compressed under high pressure using a mechanical press resulting in the formation of blocks. In order to stabilize the blocks, chemical binding materials are used. Besides the soil, the mixture also consists of clay, inorganic subsoil, aggregate and cement, in small proportion.

Use of SMB at Surwahi Social Ecoestate Kanha
Since Surwahi Social Ecoestate Kanha was always conceptualised to be an eco-friendly and green initiative, it was important that even the construction techniques and materials used for making this homestay-of-its-kind near the Kanha National Park, needed to be kind to the ecology around. SMB was time-tested and had a proven track record on the low carbon footprint and minimal impact on the environment. So, a conscious decision was taken to implement the concept of sustainable building, from the very beginning.

Construction phases of the green raw structural design at Surwahi Social Ecoestate Kanha
The entire construction layout of has been divided into phases. It was a conscious decision to complete the entire project in three phases.
Phase-I a co-living space that is a dormitory or a large hall with the capacity to accommodate 8 single beds and 2 western toilets were identified for construction. Alongside, an observation deck, a half-moon large corridor facing the central Mahua trees, a storage-cum-helper room on the first floor, a water tank cum watchtower, a cobbed Guard Room at the entrance of Surwahi Social along with a common washroom block, a Pump House, a Kids and Adults play area made from reusable & scrapped materials like rubber tyres and a temple. This phase was completed by 28th February 2020. The important factor about this phase has been that all learnings from foundation to plinth to slab at rooftops have been conceptualised and executed based on eco-friendly homestay and coliving building design one of the very first time in this area.

Phase II, which is scheduled be completed in September 2020 will see a large Central Leisure space consisting of a Dining Area, a semi-open kitchen, Outdoor Seating, Washroom, a small Book Reading zone and a terrace with ladder excess for stargazing. All the blocks being added are as per ecological architecture and design.
Phase III: That is the final phase will start at the end of this yr 2020.

Foundation was done using stabilized mud rammed on earth. The beginning was made by first using SMBs to make the smaller pump house. It was meant to be a test piece where the architectural team and the management of the property wanted to be completely sure about the worthiness of this building block. Next, the Coliving space and the dormitory block was completed by making use of the stabilized mud construction. Since the use of cement is unkind to the environment, conscious efforts were made to reduce the use of cement. Instead, a paste of sieved soil, that was sourced locally, and lime was used. The plastering and mortaring of the walls and the roofs were done using locally sourced materials like fly-ash from the industrial areas near-by, brick powder from a local red brick kiln, stones from nearby wells and fields. Similarly, Kapam Mitti, a black fine clay derived from dried ponds has also been used for plastering and mortaring work. Degenerating wooden logs were purchased from village households, re-engineered and reused in building sustainable building structure.