29 November, 2020

Building On A Dream

At 80, Laurie Baker still pursues his ideals of low-cost sustainable housing for the masses

Gauri Gill
Building On A Dream

Among the first structures that Lawrence Wilfred Baker —Laurie Baker to the world—erected after his arrival in Thiruvananthapuram in the late '60s was a signature 600 sq ft outhouse for the city's Archbishop. Baffled by the individualistic ways in which he used exposed brick and mortar, experts warned that the 'feeble' building—it cost merely Rs 3,000—wouldn't survive the first monsoon. Twenty-seven monsoons later, it still holds firm. Much like Baker's sturdy reputation, built brick by brick over a period of 50 years

Baker, who first came to India during World War II and fell under Mahatma Gandhi's irresistible moral spell, has constructed thousands of low-cost buildings all over the country—mudhouses, rural colonies, fishermen's villages, cathedrals, schools, hospitals, film studios, holiday cottages and factories. Yet, even today, his experiments with sustainable construction continue to surprise Recently, he completed an auditorium for the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram, for only Rs 200 per...



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