Hunnarshala Foundation

hunnarshala foundation

Vernacular architecture is something that will never fade with time. It is built to meet the specific needs, accommodating the values, economies, and ways of life. But is still underrated in terms of architectural styles. Where the world is moving more towards modernism, influenced by modern materials and technologies. Vernacular architecture is still somehow standing strong in terms of providing more strength to the structures just with the help of local artisans and materials. Hunnarshala foundation is also one of the renowned architectural firms in India, that practice vernacular architecture in all of their projects.


Architect: Hunnarshala Foundation

Location: India


hunnarshala campus
Image ©Hunnarshala Foundation


Hunnarshala Foundation is a not-for-profit organization based in Bhuj, Gujarat, working towards sustainable habitats formed in the wake of the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India. Hunnarshala further met with citizens, local builders, and artisans to devise reconstruction strategies that expanded upon local knowledge and the principle that homeowners were capable of replicating and updating structures for greater resilience.

Now, what makes the Hunnarshala Foundation unique is, that they don’t work with construction companies, but they encouraged the karigars or artisans in 2011 onwards, to form their own business entities and work directly with the client under the technical guidance and administrative support of Hunnarshala. Karigars and artisans help in promoting and linking traditional building knowledge within contemporary practices.

Moreover, Hunnarshala also provides an education platform called Kargishala, to learn more about the hand skills in a specific trade with a focus on understanding life values, confidence-building, and capability of delivering work professionally for young boys and girls, school dropouts and child labors. Firstly, the students understand the theory and learn the practical aspect of both trades, and secondly, after finishing the on-campus learning, the students work on a live project to gain professional experience.


exterior view hunnarshala kargishala
Image ©Hunnarshala Foundation

About Hunnarshala campus:

“Contemporary urban culture is one of copious consumption, which uses a lot of energy and resources and at the same time generates a lot of waste. Hunnarshala believes that it is essential to stress on technologies and materials that are not very energy consuming as well as recycling the waste that our environment generates”

The Hunnarshala Foundation not only incorporates vernacular architecture in their projects but also its own campus carries the same architectural styles and methods. The campus is designed with the help of local material and artisans.


hunnarshala exterior
Image ©Hunnarshala Foundation

Materials and Construction technique:

Materials like waste wood in structural areas rammed earth construction technology used for the campus. Hunnarshala campus also incorporated a Balinese thatching technique in the roof. Rice husk used for thatching. Consequently, the building is an amalgamation and a contribution from several master artisans and architects who have worked with Hunnarshala over the last decade. On the other hand, the campus explores earth, wood, and stone and several interpretations of climate and solar passive architecture.



Image ©Hunnarshala Foundation

Image ©Hunnarshala Foundation

Artisans Enterprises:

The foundation works with various artisans enterprising companies like:


Layers is a rammed earth company that specializes in the construction of stabilized rammed earth walls. The company consists of members.


Span is a space frame system, a proprietorship company by Mr. Magan R Bijlani, associated with Hunnarshala for the last 10 years. SPAN specializes in assembling and installing space frame roof under-structure.


Wood Grains, a proprietorship company started by Mr. Shravan Bishnoi, an artisan associated with Hunnarshala for 11 years. Woodgrain specializes in making wooden roof under-structures and louver windows.


Matha Chaj is a thatch company”, the women’s collective specializing in thatch roof solutions.


Luster is an artisan company which deals with external and internal finishes and specializes in the work in lime plastering.



Research activities of Hunnarshala Foundation:

Before the starting of the construction, Hunnarshala Foundation focuses more on the research of different materials and techniques of the particular region. In addition, on the basis of the research activities, various passive cooling techniques are firstly tested and then satisfactory techniques are later finalized into the design. This also helps in providing more strength to the structure and also adds aesthetics to the project.

Hunnarshala is presently working on various projects in different states of India and different countries. Some of these ongoing projects are :


1.      Post Riots Housing Shamli, Uttar Pradesh


Post Riots Housing Shamli, Uttar Pradesh

2.      Lakhpat Tourism facility

Lakhpat Tourism facility

3.       Campus for Ujjas Mahila Sangathan

Campus for Ujjas Mahila Sangathan

4.       GIC School, Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand


GIC School, Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand


5.       Owner Driven Slum Redevelopment Bhuj, Gujarat

Owner Driven Slum Redevelopment Bhuj, Gujarat


6.       Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal

Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal


In conclusion, it is not just the Hunnarshala Foundation, that practices vernacular architecture in India, but also there are other architectural firms as well. To read about them visit this post by Utsav Kamboj, click here.


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