R & D

Natural Building Research and Development activities by Thannal Natural Homes

Natural building Research and Development are essential for exploring more traditional knowledge and applying it to present-day construction. Most of the indigenous methods are not in use for decades now. However, old artisans around the country know about such traditional methods. Thannal meets such artisans and documents the method through interviews and prototype works on our campus or in their native. The documentation preserves the method for future generations.

Thannal brings the methods back to life by making real-scale applications on the campus, working with the artisans. A crucial part of the research is carrying out scientific analysis of various properties like strength, durability, water-resistance and much more. The aim is to develop the methods further for present-day use by observation, analysis, progressive trials and learning through errors.

Thannal dedicates years to understanding and reviving each method before teaching through workshops or publishing about the method. Many plant and animal derivatives are used as admixtures with Natural materials in traditional Indian natural buildings. However, very few scientists like Dr Thirumalini Selvaraj actively research and publish papers on this topic. Thannal intends to support more research on subjects related to natural building materials and admixtures for the cause of spreading sustainable practices in shelter making.

Below are Natural Building Research and Development activities by Thannal Natural Homes.

May 2021

Scientific Exploration of Natural Material Properties

Fixing of Terracotta tile in Earthbag home- second trial

Determination of Densities of different natural building materials

Determination of Compressive strength of various Natural building Units- Samples casted.

May 2021

April 2021

Testing of Adobe blocks

Manual testing of Adobe bricks, CSEB, Mud bricks stabilized with different admixture

Testing of Blocks in Civil engineering laboratory, Arunai Engineering College, Tiruvannamalai

April 2021

March 2021

Lime plastering & trials in Bamboo trusses

Experimentation on Bamboo to check the bending curve of three types of bamboo

Experimentation on the main beam made by Truss assembly and compound bamboo beam for Flat Mud Roof.

Experimentation on Truss assembly for large span about 26feet- Made of small solid bamboo (vedar)

Experimentation on Truss assembly for large span about 26feet- Made of Bamboo

White clay plaster

Fixing of Terracotta tile in Earthbag wall- second trial

Village mud kitchen- Finishing on Limecrete roof with lime plaster and linseed oil

Village Mud kitchen- Correction in Wattle and cob, Basecoat plaster

March 2021

February 2021

2” thick Wattle & Daub wall

Greywater tank rework- Inspection chamber correction, adjusting the level of pipe, replacing the filter materials, Redo of Kadappa Coping.

Plastering in Egg-shaped arch seating

Checked the effect of Hot lime slaking mix and compare the results with the wet slacking mix.

Sampling for Mortar to find the suitable mix for floor/wall tile fixing   

Fixing the steel rod inside the rocks using natural binders.

Experimenting with thin wattle and daub having thickness about 1.5” to 2”.


February 2021

January 2021

Checking the compatibility of cow dung wash & LInseed oil finishing

Lime putty/Cow Dung flooring in the Learning centre

Clay plaster in Earthbag wall and sealed with linseed oil

Application of Cow Dung wash and sealed with linseed oil on cob bench in the Learning centre

January 2021

September 2020 to December 2020

Back home

Back home, book & online video course about Indian natural building writings & Shooting work

September 2020 to December 2020

September 2020

30 days fermented Mud with different natural admixtures

Stabilisation of Mud using admixtures which are given in Traditional texts and making adobe bricks out of it

September 2020

March 2020

4” thick, load-bearing Wattle and Cob wall

Fast and Thin wall system by doing wattle and cob wall in Village Mud Kitchen using Mud, Lime and Cow Urine.
Watch Video

March 2020

February 2020

Coconut shells in foundation & Exposed Lime Crete roof

Coconut shells in the foundation for Ambasamudram project

Limecrete in the foundation for Ambasamudram project
See photos

Cob bench in the village mud kitchen

Washing area with Mud and Lime

Exposed Limecrete roof made with different admixtures laid over bamboo support. This was done using the guidelines from IS code 3036 (1992).

February 2020

January 2020

Kitchen utilities using mud

Cob Oven and Rocket Stove – making eco friendly kitchen utilities using mud
Video Oven
Video Rocket stove

Changing from Thatch roof to Terracotta tile roof – Village Mud Kitchen

January 2020

December 2019

Exposed Flat Mud Roof for G+1 Model

Making Flat Mud Roof on workshop Kalari using Mud, Lime, Bamboo

December 2019

November 2019

Living roof & Studies with foundation experts

Re-work of Living Roof by replacing recycled rubber sheet

Meeting with foundation consultant at Chennai for foundation study

November 2019

September 2019

Can we be able to break the Wattle and Daub wall by using a crowbar?

Checking the strength of wattle and daub wall made with different cob mixes by breaking it.

September 2019

August 2019

Natural Flooring & Adobe Roof

Learning centre Flooring experiment with Lime, Mud and Cow Dung

Keeru Roof re-plastering

Adobe roof first trial on Earthbag studio

August 2019

July 2019

Adobe Bed

Furniture using Mud (Adobe bricks) and Thappi lime plaster for making the bed.

July 2019

May 2019

Master Mason’s visit Thannal Campus, Creating Waterproof Surfaces in Bathroom and Roof, Trial with Sandwich roof

Trial of Traditional Rajasthan Araish lime plastering in the bathroom to check the waterproofing

Trial of Araish Lime Plastering on Keeru Roof

Earth-bag home roof work – experimenting with new roofing method – sandwich roof with bamboo, lime, terracotta tile. Watch video

Khiri roof second coat plastering

Visiting of Traditional Lime Artisans to Thannal Campus – Abdul Razak ji, Shahid, Islamudin and exchanging knowledge.

Photo of Artisan and Thannal Team 

Experimentation for lime tank using bricks and lime mortar, thappi lime plastering by artisans from Rajasthan.

May 2019

April 2019

Cob Bench

Thappi plastered on a cob bench. See video of making cob bench

April 2019

February 2019

Growing plants on Living roof

Living roof experiment with cocopeat and mud.

The foundation using waste from the cutting of granite tiles for workshop kalari

February 2019

January 2019

Pallet wood roof & Testing Mud samples in Laboratory

Khiru roof plastering – 1st and 2nd coat

Khiru roof side roof with pallet wood – exploration in waste wood re-use.

Experimenting with Drip Irrigation with Thannal Natural Building Grove.

Testing different samples of Mud with CUSAT professor Mrs Lekshmi

January 2019

December 2018

Cob bench, Khiru flat roof, Seating Made by Reclaimed wood

Keeru roof learning centre structural works

Testing different natural filtration methods in Grey Water Tank

Experimentation of Lime Wash in interiors of Store Room for durability

Working on Verandah Seating – Outdoor seating in Earth-bag Home – with waste wood to explore the recycling of wood.

Making of Cob Bench in the technique of Flat Mud Roof

Making of exposed cob walls with plastering and without plastering to check withstanding in rain.

Application of herbal termite mix in the learning centre and testing for durability

Interior flooring experimentation with cow dung and mud.

Traditional Rajasthani Lime plastering – Lohi application on the exposed wall to check the durability of lime plasters in rain.

The first trial of Roof with Adobe bricks above Keeru Roof

Glass placing for skylight and water-proof plastering on the adobe roof.

Learning Center Pallet wood east side roof.

Learning Center Cob Bench making.

Experimenting flooring with Islamudin – using waste granite tiles to recycle waste materials in natural construction.

December 2018

November 2018

Masonry using Hollow clay blocks

Exploring Hollow Clay Block with Lime Surkhi mortar by constructing a Padippura – Entrance gate at Guruvayoor, Kerala

Earthbag studio kitchen interiors.

Pallet Wood treatment using boric borax to increase durability in exposed conditions.

November 2018

October 2018

Fixing tile & plastering on Earthbag walls

Terracotta tile cladding on Earth bag Studio exteriors using Lime mortar

Earth-bag studio exterior and interior plastering

October 2018

September 2018

Roof using wooden shingles

Dervish Studio internal and external plastering

Corrections in Pallet Wood Roofing in Dervish Studio

September 2018

August 2018

Field Study on Flood affected Mud buildings in Kerala

Making of Tusali thara using Natural materials

Travel in flood-affected regions in Kerala to study how old traditional buildings are affected in flood and what are the learning based on buildings made in natural materials.

Lime Tank – kadappa stone placing using lime mortar, plastering trials.

August 2018

July 2018

Interiors using Natural colours

Limewash with colours interior of storeroom

Flooring inside storeroom with tiles

Greywater Tank and Lime Storage Tank with out cement – Placing of stone with lime mortar

Electrical works in Earth-bag studio

Thankappan Achari – Vastu Consultant visiting Thannal Campus

July 2018

June 2018

Stairs & Loft – Cost effective approach

Making Loft in Earthbag home using Pallet Wood – experiment to reuse packaging wood in construction.

Stairs with Bamboo and Waste wood

June 2018

April & May 2018

Study & Practice on Plaster of Rajasthan

Making furniture in Mud and finishing with smooth lime plaster – Le Corbusier Chair in Learning Centre.
Travel to Rajasthan for research on Araish Lime Plastering and other traditional building methods, meeting and interaction with artisans.
Store room brick work with mud and lime mortar to close the gaps.
Research & Practice of Araish Plaster with Master Artisans from Rajasthan.

April & May 2018

March 2018

Mud and Lime Flooring

Making Fish Tank using lime under Cherry tree near Washing area-Islamudin
Base coat flooring of Dervish Studio with Mud and Lime
Curved shape tile roofing in Dervish Studio

March 2018

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