A Visit to Laurie Baker Building Centre, New Delhi

Laurie Baker is a world renowned architect for his methods of cost-effective and energy efficient construction. His building techniques normally use the materials which are found natively around the region where construction is going to take place.

Mr. Baker says: “Consider each and every component of your building and ask yourself, “is it necessary?” if the answer is “no” then you don’t need to do it. If the answer is “yes” then ask whether the current way of doing it is still the best and most economical.”
This simple ideology of Mr. Baker made him the person who successfully evolved new ways of construction which were cost-effective and energy-efficient.
Some elements of Baker’s Construction Technique:

  1. Use of Rat-trap Bond for masonry
    • The hollow nature of such walls improves its thermal properties.
    • Electrical conduits can be accommodated in the hollows, which avoid chasing of walls as is normally practiced.
    • Can be used for load bearing structures up to 2 storeys high.
    • Proves to be very economical.
  2. Use of nets (perforations in a wall)
    • Created for allowing light and ventilation (the most common being a wall with its header blocks removed).
    • Modifying the proportions of perforations, according to solar angle can help control the influx of radiations to quite an extent.
    • Brick nets sealed with pieces of glass can economically provide pleasing, diffused light.
  3. Foundation
    • Lime concrete can effectively substitute the cement concrete in the conventional method of laying foundation where brick and cement mortar are adopted over a bed of cement concrete.
    • For soils with normal load bearing capacity, foundation masonry can be started directly over a bed of rammed and leveled brick-bats.
    • Economy can be achieved by doing foundations in random stone masonry without mortar.
  4. Roofs – Use of filler slabs
    • It implies, “filling up” pf unnecessary parts of concrete slab with light weight material.
    • It improves its insulating properties.
    • The resulting light-weight slab reduces the requirement of steel reinforcement.
    • Bricks, Mangalore pattern tiles, coconut shells, inverted earthen pots, etc. can be used as filler materials.
  5. Masonry Domes
    • Can be built on any room, irrespective of its shape.
    • Though for maximum economy, room shape should conform to that of the kime’s.
    • Domes are specifically economical for large spans as this helps in cutting down substantially on the steel, concrete and shuttering used otherwise.
  6. Finishes
    • Finishing takes up a major chunk of the overall building cost.
    • This may be saved by minimizing applied finishes like plastering, painting, polishing, etc. These are not only initial expenses, but also recurring.
    • Most of the building blocks, viz. country burnt bricks, stone, and concrete blocks, etc. have pleasing color and texture and are quite capable of resisting adverse weather.
    • Therefore, plaster can be completely avoided without affecting the strength of the structure.
    • In case brighter surfaces are required, a few coast of lime wash can be applied directly on the masonry surface.

Reader Interactions


  1. Anonymous says

    Thanks alot… but it seems
    Thanks alot… but it seems there isn’t any building photographs of Laurie Baker building centre, New Delhi. If any one have any info about it or images, please let me know.


  2. Anonymous says

    hey rohit, do u know anythng
    hey rohit, do u know anythng about the ‘Shaolin temple cultural centre’at Aurovalley Ashram Rishikesh (located at the foothills of the Himalayan Shivalik
    Mountains in the North of India)?????

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