Yatin Pandya is the founder and executive director of Footprints E.A.R.T.H. (Environment, Architecture, Research, Technology, Housing), an Indian professional services organization focused on research, design and promotion of more sustainable urban futures. Their work runs the gamut from architecture to campus planning to education, with the intention that each project become an educational tool in a campaign to help India think differently about its built environment. Footprints E.A.R.T.H. is also well known for their work on recycling and up-cycling: India produces 24.7 mn tons of urban waste per day. This waste stream represents a virtually unlimited supply of new building materials, provided that they can be thoughtfully reused.
The design of the Manav Sadhna Activity Centre and Creche, in Ahmedabad, India evinces this philosophy. Walls were constructed of fly ash instead of clay, which does not require burning, is less polluting, and is furthermore cheaper. Wooden crates, glass bottles, oil drums, rags, clay bowls and even electronic waste (keyboards) are used as filler in several different applications. The project itself acts as a sort of material palette for locals; it can be studied and serve as inspiration for future projects.
Yatin’s projects blur the line between practical projects and demonstration projects. Each project fulfills its programs, but is conceived so as to be a resource for further study and use. In that way, his work also compliments more formal design studios taught by Footprints E.A.R.T.H.. In his own words, Yatin’s philosophy of holistic design
” . . . is experientially engaging, environmentally sustaining, socioculturally responsive and most importantly contextually appropriate . . .. We are lucky to find repository of traditional wisdom
through its deep long passage of time. We endeavor to create contextually relevant contemporary resolutions that inspire from the rich Indian traditions and yet aspire for its future dreams.”
We had a chance to interview Yatin on Social Design Insights, where he shared with us the nuts and bolts of his approach.