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The House of Biomaterials
Rishikesh, India
Rishikesh, India
under construction
30 December 2022
The House of Biomaterials is a learning lab, a museum, and an exhibition in the form of a community-built hand-sculpted cob house. The goal is to set a precedent, addressing the large-scale migration from the inaccessible hilly landscape by putting the remote village on the map and providing a platform for knowledge exchange to generate livelihood opportunities. The aim is also to spark curiosity about the possibilities of natural materials.
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This region of Uttarakhand state has the highest number of ghost villages as people have migrated due to a lack of livelihood opportunities. 

The site is in a remote village in a forest, visited by elephants. There are only six houses, and it gets disconnected during monsoons as the wooden bridge washes away as the rivers swell. The nearest motorable road is a 30-minute hike. Hence, there has been no infrastructural development.

The locals are losing belief in their vernacular architecture and indigenous wisdom, shifting to cement-based houses in an era where excessive use of industrialized building materials continues to push society towards an ecological crisis. 

The forest laws limit the material palette by banning the mining of slate and the extraction of wood. At the same time, we are witnessing technological advancements in the new materials economy globally. However, a Lack of awareness, collaborative platforms, and resources in India inhibit the innovation and acceptance of these materials. 

The House of Biomaterials aims to cross-stitch 
indigenous wisdom, art, design, technology, and science to foster regenerative futures.

It is a platform for multi-disciplinary designers to collaborate with rural communities to innovate and showcase products, installations, and projects made using plant-based or natural materials. For example, lampshades made of orange peel, chairs of mycelium, pen holders made using pine needles, rugs made of algae yarn, products using straw etc.
Examples of Biomaterial based object

image: public domain
Thousands of tourists flock to the river below the village for white water rafting and pre-wedding shoots every year, but it remains hidden from them.

By building 'The House of Biomaterials,' we are trying to create a 'Bilbao effect' for the village. 

It intends to become an interdisciplinary nexus for knowledge exchange workshops designed to develop skills, products, techniques, and symbiotic circular micro-economies with the community by recognizing and strengthening social capital and working with existing materials. This program will invite residents to develop projects in collaboration with community members generating more livelihood opportunities for the villagers.

The project has already generated local employment and helped them learn a niche skill. Fifteen people have been employed throughout construction from the village and nearby villages, generating income locally.

The project has reinstalled belief in the vernacular techniques among the locals. More than 40 people have volunteered to build from around the globe and even helped locals to design their houses. We have hosted multiple educational documentary screenings, art and natural building workshops for children.

The museum would also run as a homestay for people to experience the benefits of living in a natural building and become aware of the possibilities of plant-based materials, sparking conversations on how design can positively impact the environment.
Core team

Inspired by the birds, bees, and termites, 
we wanted to create something sacred with our hands that positively impacts the life of the locals.

Tiny Farm Lab, a rural design studio in the woods,  was born out of the belief that nothing in nature exists alone. We believe we can foster regenerative futures through multi-disciplinary collaboration. It is a breeding ground for intellectual capital to meet the social capital of the village.

Our values:
Fair Share

Natural Building is labor intensive, especially in a remote site.
It is teamwork that makes the dream work.

Core Team

Raghav Kumar
Natural Builder/Architect/ Material Researcher
Host, Tiny Farm Friends Podcast
Instagram @raghavkumar2093

Ansh Kumar
New Media Artist
Natural Builder/Architect/Material Researcher
Instagram @K_ansh

Ankita Arora
Architect/ Visual Designer Design for Interaction, TU Delft
Instagram @ankee_monkee

Saumya Saishree
Architect/Natural Builder

Bharat Rolaniya 
Architect/Natural Builder

Deepak Barthwal
Site Partner
Co-Founder of Samvedna NGO

Hanish Bhateja
Sustainability Consultant

Phondi Devi a.k.a Dadi (Grandmother)

Stone Mason

Assistant Stone Mason

We host the Tiny Farm Friends Podcast -
Conversations with people using the best of their abilities to foster a healthier world. 
Tiny Farm Friends is also a community of more than 150 eco-conscious creatives.

Our work covered in the media:
The Story Of Two Brothers: Tiny Farm Lab

Image gallery
Site context

image: public domain
Village Context

image: public domain
Village aerial view

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Retaining wall foundation

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Retaining wall

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Tea break with local builders

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Volunteers building the cob wall

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Raghav and Ansh

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Volunteers building the site

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Knowledge sharing with locals and kids

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Building Site

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Construction in progress

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Building Entrance

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
View from Pathway

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Building Entrance

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Building Interiors

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Tiny Farm Friends Podcast

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Experiments with Biomaterials

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Thermochromatic Plastic

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Technical drawings
Aerial View

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Site Plan

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Roof Plan

image: Tiny Farm Lab | © all rights reserved
Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
The House of Biomaterials is a pilot project. It is self-funded by the two brothers, Raghav and Ansh, through savings and loans from family. 
The land is leased from Mr. Deepak, who runs a women empowerment NGO, Samvedna.

After lifting thousands of stones and making hundreds of cob mixes over eight months, we constructed the retaining walls for the lower terrace and the cob walls for the living and sleeping area with the help of volunteers and locals. 

Most of the building materials are from within 100 Mts.
The windows are secondhand and repurposed. 

Next Steps:
Building the toilet, reciprocal roof, and outdoor kitchen. Followed by services, earthen plastering, flooring, etc. 
An indication of our team’s capacity:
40% funding already raised
70% expertise already found
50% materials / equipment already found
50% builders already found
Finance: € 9,500
We need extra funding to finish what we started. Your support would help create a bridge between the locals and multidisciplinary groups, develop new perspectives, give birth to micro-economies, reinstall the belief that one can build their dwellings using natural materials, and help shape regenerative futures. 

We expect that in the next six months, this extra funding can help us realize the house of biomaterials and a sharing/learning space in an area of 200 m2.
  • Materials for Reciprocal Living Roof
  • Electrical and Plumbing
  • Transport of materials
  • Employing Local Labour 120 days
  • Granny's salary (cooking for volunteers 120 days)
  • Solar Fencing and panels
Skills: Design, PR & Marketing, Financial advice, Technique
We  are looking for potential partners and need support from experts on:

- planning the reciprocal living roof
- calculating structural load for the soil
- Tadelakt Plaster
- Designing a fireplace
- Curating the museum experience
- Material designers to collaborate to design the interiors of the house
Stuff: Materials, Equipment & tools
We need support with the following
  • Battery operated drills
  • Drawknife
  • Chainsaw
  • Rocket Stove
  • Flue pipe for fireplace
  • Solar Panel system
  • Daily Objects Projects made from biomaterials
  • 2 x 3D Printers for creating biobased objects
  • Extruder
  • Seeds for the permaculture garden
  • Solar fencing to keep elephants Away
We need volunteers for:

-  sculpting clay murals
-  carpentry skills
- Earthen Flooring
- Earthen Plastering
- Tadelakt Plastering
- Stone arches
Help bring our project to life!
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