Journey of a Sustainable Architect in India with Vinu Daniel | AG 26

In this episode, we have a candid conversation with a leading Sustainable Architect in India, Vinu Daniel. He is the principal Architect & Founder of Wallmakers, based out of Kerala. Wallmakers have been constructing all their buildings out of sustainable earth materials ever since 2007. They have garnered various awards for their works and have b een published widely on Archdaily, Dezeen and various other famous publications.

    Born and brought up in Sharjah, Vinu was never interested in Architecture but rather wanted to become a musician. It was only through a chance meeting with Laurie Baker, that turned the table for him. He believes in respecting your brethren and working along with them in order to truly become a responsible Architect. He shares valuable lessons for us and we discuss various topics like how he got into Architecture, his time at the Auroville Earth Institute, building his first project, Sustainable Construction & dealing with clients, learning from masons and helpers, future endeavors, the Architectural Education System in India and loads more.

Podcast Shownotes

03:00 How Vinu got into Architecture?
05:00 Experience studying Architecture in College of Engineering, Trivandrum
“The best part of being in College was that I was in the vicinity of a master Architect, Laurie Baker.”
07:45 His experience at Auroville
10:40 Vinu’s first project – “A Wall”
13:30 How Wallmakers got their name?
14:30 Being poor and how he managed his finances during the initial years?

“We are heading towards a lifeless & waterless situation if we continue building like this.”

18:10 When someone is already sufficient, why do people work towards making more money?

“For me, building a space should be a transcendental one, it shouldn’t be a mundane existence because we’re here for a short period of time?”

20:00 How Vinu got his first major breakthrough?
21:30 Maintenance in buildings
22:40 The IHA Residence

“The first question that bothers me is that why should I do that project?”
“What I didn’t build in IHA is what I am more proud of than what I built.”

26:00 Playing with earth materials
28:20 The big divide between the Architect & the mason.
30:10 How more Architects can adopt Earth techniques to build?
37:30 Vinu’s take on Architectural Education
42:30 Doing Masters in Architecture
46:30 Future plans for Wallmakers
48:30 Quickfire Round with Students of Vinu Daniel
53:00 Advice for young Architects and students

Notable Mentions

Projects Mentioned
  •  Pallikoodam by Laurie Baker
  •  IHA Residence by Vinu Daniel

 People Mentioned

  • Shaji TL
  • Architect Eugene Pandala 
  • Satprem Maini
  • Laurie Baker
  • Shailaja Nair
  • PB Shajan
  • Costford
  • Jitish Kallat
  • Riyas Kornu
  • Bose Krishnamachari

About Vinu Daniel & Wallmakers

Vinu Daniel completed his B.Arch in 2005 from The College of Engineering Trivandrum, following which he worked with Auroville Earth Institute for the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Post-Tsunami construction. On returning from Pondicherry in 2007 he started ‘Wallmakers’ which was christened thus by others, as the first project was just a compound wall. By 2008 he had received an award for a low cost, eco-friendly house from the ‘Save Periyar’ Pollution Control Committee for the house which was constructed for a cancer patient. Many such eye-openers in the course of his practice prompted him to resolve to devote his energies towards the cause of sustainable and cost-effective architecture.

Connect with Vinu Daniel & Wallmakers