Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, June 18, 2011

re-thatching the pavilion

the pavilion was built in april 2009.
built over just under 3 weeks by a team from auroville, it is our residence, our workshop, our lounge and an iconic part of pR.

two years of rain and sun had eroded the coconut thatch (kith), especially the northern face. leaks had developed in around 3-4 places.

it was time to replace the kith.
the same team which laid the original thatch re-did the thatching.

here is an animated time lapse series.

the entire operation lasted less than 5 days. and cost Rs 75K. uncannily, just how much it cost us for digging the well :-)
you must have noticed the mats in the final frames.
that was the masterstroke. karpagam's inspired idea. here is why...
at a cost of Rs 75K every two years for kith replacement, this system just becomes unviable.
the classic rural home use a second layer to cover the kith. it could be palm fronds, rice straw or most commonly, vegil. these would increase the life span of the roof by another 2-5 years, depending on the choice and the quality of the installation.
vegil - a reedy grass that commonly grows on tank beds and borders in this area. to survive the moisture, they develop a waxy outer layer and it turns out to be the ideal topping on the kith.

for the scale of the pavilion, using vegil just was not feasible. it would have cost us an additional Rs 1 lac!
it was just that, the size and scale of the pavilion was taxing us when karpagam came up with the mat idea. mats are made out of 'korai grass' - another type of waxy, reedy grass which also grows near water bodies. the grass is slit and is woven into mats.
the total mat cost was less than Rs 5K.
even if it just increases the kith life by one year, it is a killer solution. eco-friendly, cost-effective and easy to install.
but will it work? we will wait and see.

the removed kith is super mulch material.

in the meanwhile, here is the simple but beautiful method of fastening the kith onto the wooden frame.

and to prevent the mats from flapping in the wind, the entire roof was tied down with nylon rope.

and finally, the team of monkeys who did it...


Capton said...

Very nice. Reminds me of our village and ancestral home in kanyakumari dist. What kind of protection do you have against fire hazards ? Although eco-friendly it does seem like a house of tinder.

Kishore said...

How is the tacthed roof with regards to the temprature. I.E. how cool is it compared to say a concrete roof?

Event though the cost is significant, when one thinks about the cost of running an air-conditioner as well as the environmental impact of the same I think that the equation is much more balanced.

Further, the skilled individuals who work on this are able to sustain their families without piling onto the cities.

Jayadeep(JDP) said...

Our neighbors used to have a thatched roof of coconut leaves which are plenty in the region. Now you see them only in some resorts!

csm said...

capton - it is as you protection other than being smart.

kishore - it is zameen asman ka fark. it is one of the coolest roof options of all time.

jdp - need to learn to stitch the mats.
i have partially learnt how to mount them.

as capton correctly indicates its tinder box status, it carries that heavy risk. and in tense village situations, it is an easy target. in fact, many a powerful person has burnt down lives...
so many prefer to go the concrete route.

Ganesh said...

The poor end up paying more for the same thing...irony of life. Thatched roof seems yet another example..if every 3-4 years you have to spend to do them all over again what is the ROI/life time cost as compared to concrete or other materials? Even assuming the thatches are free, which is unlikely in today's economy