Workshop / Project / Travel – Building with curves – Co-op Forest, Nekkundhi

Piyush Manush and his team from Co-op Forest organized a workshop for 180 kids from local schools along with the mentoring NGO Vazhai, and resident and working families at Co-op Forest. As a part of this workshop, we (mom, dad, my brother and me) were given the wonderful opportunity to come stay at the forest for a couple of days and help build a small extension – store house of the kitchen.

We landed to find that there were no tools available to build plumb and straight. No other materials other than red brick and mud available to build. Overnight, I came up with the idea for a small structure that would be entirely hand built of the same materials, brick and mud and nothing else. This set the real scenario for a building where I was forced to follow simple laws of nature and from traditional cultures. I summarize three of my simple learning’s here. I am sure anyone who attended this workshop would associate them selves with these learning’s.

More images on Avaneesh’s flickr page


1. Nature has a series of fundamental geometries, each for a set of phenomenon at a particular scale. Then why do we build rectangular? 

Nature produces few straight lines, right angles, flat surfaces or uniform unbroken colors, and when they do arise, she rapidly starts to diversify them! The rigid, rectangular buildings of our industrial system keep their shape for a very brief time. The moment they are set, cast or assembled, natures forces being working on them. sharp corners rapidly become rounded,  flat uniform clean surfaces start gaining their diversity that is universal to nature.

2. We should imagine the shape of the buildings we build and then use the appropriate tools to build with.. not the other way around. Today the tools we build with seem to direct the shapes of our buildings. 

After watching Dan Philips talk about it so eloquently. I need not add any more. With no plumb line, right angle squares and bubble levels available at hand, it frees us of the need to build straight, plumb and right. The eye and hand team up as the best tool available to imagine and build the most organic forms possible. It is here that we can cheerfully discard the tools to fully enjoy the shaping and molding of surfaces.

3. The hand and the eye are tools everyone is born with. Anyone can build! Everyone can build!

When we do discard these tools and specializations of trades, we truly rely on imagination, intuition, the eye and the hand that are universal to all.  The act of building comes back to the hands of the common man where it always belonged. There is no more differentiation with skill, age, gender, disability.. everyone can come together to truly enjoy the art of creation. The collective creation of something unique!


The two days of building started a nubian vault over a curved wall. The vault shall follow the foundations, that go around a coconut tree to be preserved. This building with no straight lines is to come up over the next few weeks.

A sincere thanks to Piyush Manush, Senthil Kumar J and family for the wonderful weekend we spent with you, playing in ingeniously collected fresh water streams and ponds!  Come to Co-op Forest.. its a place of never ending learning! Hope to be a part of it someday.



  1. karthik r m


  2. Pingback: Workshop – June 2015 – Adobe Vaulting a Chocolate Factory | Varun Thautam

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