Sustainable Residence utilizing Geothermal Energy

Location: H.No. 303, Urban Estate, Patiala
Year of completion : 2009
Lead Architect: P K Mukherjee


The current generation, have no idea really what it means to go to battle, or fight a war.

In fact, most civvies in India have almost no idea about the Indian Army, or what it actually does – except that they are meant to protect the Nation (including it’s corrupt babus & netas).

We were lucky to have met him at a function of ‘The War Disabled’ decades ago at CSIO. Punjab has a large number of soldiers who faced the brunt of the  wars with Pakistan – including the one in 1965 -  which came as a surprise move after a feint in the region of the Kutch. With Lal Bahadur Shastri as the PM vs Ayub Khan in Pakistan.

The Pakis had then attacked in division strength in the North, where Punjab borders J&K. And it was here that famous tank battle of Khem Karan was fought. And Capt Reet MP Singh was there. All of 22 years old, and the date was 22nd Sept. 1965. As part of 8th Light Cavalry of the Armoured Corps.
Shrapnel blinded him in one eye, and also broke his one leg and an arm.

It was providence which led Indian troops to find him in the battle field the next morning – and evacuated him first to the Army  Hospital at Ferozeopur, and then for more than a year and a half of surgeries and convalescing at Delhi.

So we were excited at being asked to design his family house in Patiala....... which he named Machhike, after the battlefield where he managed to come out alive after being hit by enemy shell splinters.

Small family – both son and daughter in the Army by now – we had no problems addressing the basic requirements of a 2 bedroom house with the upper storey for the son & his family (also a cavalry-man, in the same unit as his father). Another basic requirement was a large library cum study and a lot of storage  space.

An analysis of the geography of Patiala and its propensity to flooding straight away pointed to a high plinth – which we planned for. But then the severely clayey soil (with a very low SBC) also necessitated a spread out foundation – which turned out to best in the form of a raft slab. Houses abutting both sides of the plot were built up – so we had to come up with a sloped basement slab for structural stability. This feature gave us an advantage inasmuch we gained a lot of visual space below the GF slab.

The entire house had a small footprint of about just over a thousand sft – 35’x35’. All supported with a column grid of 15’ square. With balconies and other projections , there was almost zero wastage in the use of standard  rebars of 12 m lengths. A mere 9 columns with 4 bays did the trick.

The basement therefore turned out to be a 1000 sft plus hall with adequate seating and shelf space for books and memorabilia. And was done up as a comfortable den for the doyen.

The GF encompassed the usual DDK + 2 bedrooms – both with attached toilets and storage. A fireplace was a must, as was a small Powder Room for visitors.
A deck from the rear bedroom leads out to the large rear garden – which luckily, was in the south.

There is a separate Annexe block for staff and maybe a tenant.
The driveway is around 5 m wide – adequate for the various vehicles reqd to be parked within the house premises.

A unique feature built into the house is an EARTH COOLING SYSTEM – which uses the natural coolth of the earth a few meters below the surface to warm or cool the house throughout the seasons. There is also a natural wind driven exhaust system to continuously ventilate all the three floors.

A highly insulated roof – with arrangement for a roof garden – has been made to reduce the heat gain of the house from the day long solar insulation.

Because of the high clay content of the soil, Rain water harvesting or recharge was not a good option – although an attempt has been made to help increase the rain water absorption with a deep pipe with filters and such  embedded in the front garden.

Solar water heating has been provided – complete with insulated plumbing to prevent heat loss.

And the house has become a landmark.......!!!
Mission accomplished.......!!!

See this video explaining the principal of geothermal energy usage

Architectural Drawings


Basement floor plan

Ground floor plan

First floor plan

Front Elevation

Side Elevation

Rear Elevation