The new pavilion at pointReturn

The state of Kerala is coconut palm country and its by-product industries thrive there. Just north of the state’s border with Karnataka begins the Adike country. Adike palm is officially ‘Areca catechu’. Arecanut is one of those Indian oddities difficult to come to terms with. The nut has a religious sanction and some marginal medicinal value. With that giving it respectability, chewing it -let alone, spitting out the remnants- is a widespread habit. The tree however is a grand one and widely grown in Dakshina Kannada. When it’s time to replace it, its bark is salvaged and made into 2″ wide slats, 12′ long. The slats are strong and flexible. They are used to make a good decking. Bundled sales of areca palm slats is a steady if small, industry.

The third essential requirement for an Auroville style capsule is the granite post. Three common lengths are in use: 7′, 10′ and 12′. These are hand hewn in hills near Senji, south of pointReturn. Working granite is a centuries old south Indian skill. Temples have been built for over a millennium and many remain till today, worn beautifully by time, but sturdy still. Religious statuary of great intricacy are the high end of the granite worker’s art. Rough hewn posts are the low end and these are what go into building a capsule.

I have put together a slideshow to explain the method of construction. A link to that slideshow is given at the end of this article as it is best viewed after reading the following introductory notes.

The ground is marked with stone pillar locations. Pillars are set on a grid not exceeding 9’x9′. If two levels are to be built, 10′ or 12′ posts are used. In hard ground -such as at pointReturn- 2.5′ deep holes are dug [In sandy areas such as the sea coast, the holes are an additional 6″ or 12″.] Depending on the length of the granite posts used, one is left with 7.5′ or 9.5′ clearance under the poles; the former being the usual. The cavity between the hole and the pillar is back filled with earth and tamped down firmly. The top of the posts and row alignments are carried out to within an inch. No cement is used.

Granite posts are the key to a capsule’s success. In addition to being a strong ecologically harmonious structural member, granite posts stop termites. The low cost wood poles used to build the superstructure above the posts, have a greater longevity therefore. Personally for me, the rough hewn pillars are worth it for their visual treat alone.

6 thoughts on “The new pavilion at pointReturn

  1. Hi Satya,
    While Jatropha is great, it helps to mix a few more varieties (may be Nochi and Adathoda) to the mix to minimise damage from pests to the fence. Also it helps to have a multi layer fence if protection from wind is an important factor.
    Jatropha will take approx. 18 months to reach a heaight of 5 feet.
    If your friend doesn’t mind a long read, our experience with hedge plants is written up here.

  2. satya…
    try jatropha curcas, the same one they are promoting as a biodiesel plant. i am not enthusiastic about such a role for it but it grows easy, fast and dense enough to make a good fencing material

  3. Hi DV,

    Congrats on completing the pavilion. I wen through your bill of materials.I found the granite stakes are much cheaper in and around hyderabad(Probably due to rocky area).

    BTW Would you know good hedge plants for the boundary. One my friends recently started a project similar to your’s .He wants to plant hedge plants around the boundary to protect plantation like papaya from wind. Particularly he is looking for goat proof hedge plants which can be grown quickly to a height of at least 6 feet.

    Satya Sunkara

  4. Dear Mr. Sreedharan,
    Hearty congrats on this green castle. We’d built a 1000 sq ft community center using similar material and hand made bricks. That was difficult enough but your project is much more challenging. Thank you very much for sharing these hard-to-find-outside-Auroville details.
    BTW, there seems to be a WordPress attack going on and users are advised to upgrade immediately to version 2.8.4.

  5. Hello Mr. DV,

    Thanks a lot for posting this latest article. It gave lot of info. Congratulations for completing such a big structure! what are future plans? I mean, I read the permeaculture details and June status but good if you can share some major milestones you are visualizing.

    Best wishes!
    – Kedar

  6. Dear DV,
    Great to hear that the Pavilion is ready and it is eco friendly. It is amazing that you have so much zing to do these wishes for the pavilion. sarath

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