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I never build for classes of people high income, middle income or low income groups, tribals or fishermen.

. I only build for a Matthew, a Bhaskaran, a Muneer or a Sankaran. -Laurie Baker Laurence Wilfred "Laurie" Baker (2 March 1917 1 April 2007)

Baker studied architecture in Birmingham and graduated in 1937, aged 20, in a period of political unrest for Europe. During the Second World War, he served in the Friends Ambulance Unit in China and Burma. He worked as an architect for an international and interdenominational Mission dedicated to the care of those suffering from leprosy. He focused on converting or replacing asylums once used to house the ostracized sufferers of the disease - "lepers". He Used indigenous architecture and methods of these places as means to deal with his once daunting problems.

1981: D.Litt conferred by the Royal University of Netherlands for outstanding work in the Third World 1983: Order of the British Empire, MBE 1987: Received the first Indian National Habitat Award 1988: Received Indian Citizenship 1989: Indian Institute of Architects Outstanding Architect of the Year 1990: Received the Padma Sri 1990: Great Master Architect of the Year 1992: UNO Habitat Award & UN Roll of Honour



Designing and building low cost, high quality, beautiful homes Suited to or built for lower-middle to lower class clients. Irregular, pyramid-like structures on roofs, with one side left open and tilting into the wind. Brick jali walls, a perforated brick screen which utilises natural air movement to cool the home's interior and create intricate patterns of light and shadow. Baker's designs invariably have traditional Indian sloping roofs and terracotta Mangalore tile shingling with gables and vents allowing rising hot air to escape curved walls to enclose more volume at lower material cost than straight walls. Baker was often seen rummaging through salvage heaps looking for suitable building materials, door and window frames. Baker's architectural method is of improvisation. Initial drawings have only an idealistic link to the final construction, with most of the accommodations and design choices being made on-site by the architect himself.

Baker-Low cost' or `cost reduction' is not only concerning economy. Most modern building materials are manufactured articles (like burnt bricks or steel or glass or cement). Their respective costs are one important consideration but just as important is the question of how much energy (or fuel) was used in their manufacture.

The use of local materials is an example of economy because there are no transport costs. These styles show that people have discovered that there is a right way and a wrong way of putting materials together so that they are strong and durable. A wall, for example, is not necessarily stronger because it is thicker. The bonding together of a few stones is much stronger than the heaping together of a lot of stones.


Baker always carried his home-made diary fashioned out of old pieces of paper from envelopes and other waste plain paper wherever he went. Baker's ability to sketch was one of the main reason he never learnt Indian languages since whenever people didn't understand English he would whip out his diary and scribble a quick sketch to explain what he meant.


Advantages 20-35% Less materials Decorative, Economical & Reduced self-load Almost maintenance free 25-30% Cost Reduction Filler slab

Advantages Energy saving & Eco-Friendly compressive roofing. Decorative & Highly Economical Maintenance free Jack Arch

Filler slabs

Filler slabs employ replacing 'un-productive' concrete by a 'Filler' material which reduces the weight of the slab and also the cost by reducing the amount of concrete used. Also, since the weight of the slab is thus reduced, lesser steel is required for reinforcement, further reducing the cost.


The arch is significant because it provides a structure which eliminates tensile stresses in spanning an open space. All the forces are resolved into compressive stresses. This is useful because several of the available building materials such as stone, cast iron and concrete can strongly resist compression but are very weak when tension, shear or torsional stress is applied to them.


A dome can be thought of as an arch which has been rotated around its central vertical axis. Thus domes, like arches, have a great deal of structural strength when properly built and can span large open spaces without interior supports.

UNI Group Housing, Vasundhra, Ghaziabad Sehwag International School, Jhajjar, Haryana

Farmer's Training Center for P.N.B., Nimrana, Rajasthan

Promoted by HUDCO and DSIB, Govt. of Delhi Ekta Vihar, Sector - 6, R.K. Puram, New Delhi - 110022

Laurie Baker Building Centre

Rat trap bond

Rat trap bond brick masonry is an alternative to normal English bond masonry walls by which 15% of cost can be reduced without comprimising the quality, strength and appearances.

Bricks to me are like faces. All of them are made of burnt mud, but they vary slightly in shape and colour. I think these small variations give tremendous character to a wall made of thousands of bricks, so I never dream of covering such a unique and characterful creation with plaster, which is mainly dull and characterless. I like the contrast of textures of brick, of stone, of concrete, of wood. We still do not see that the most important industry in the country is the building industry. We refuse to see that it can absorb every type of worker from the highly-skilled scientist to the completely non-skilled labourer. It can solve a large area of our unemployment problem, and, furthermore, it can start immediately, if we will it, as no other industry can.
My observation is that vernacular architecture almost always has good answers to all our problems. In every district, wherever you go, the people themselves take an active part in making their houses. Now, for whatever reasons, they have lost their skills, and need to look outside for help.

Masonry Arches

Advantages Traditional spanning sytem. Highly decorative & economical Less energy requirement.

Masonry Dome

Advantages Energy saving eco-friendly compressive roof.

Decorative & Highly Economical for larges spans. Maintenance free

Advantages Energy saving eco-friendly compressive roof. Decorative & Economical Maintenance free

Funicular shell

IT is a Baker's home in Trivandrum. Take a closer look at this remarkable and unique house built on five levels on a plot of land along the slope of a rocky hill, with limited access to water: conditions most people would never dream of building anything much less their homes under! However Bakers genius has created a wonderful home for his family.




HAMLET-Use of natural light

HAMLET-Inner cortyard and garden

The Center For Development Studies

Centre for Development Studies Ulloor, Trivandrum, 1971 the most important project of bakers career. The significance of this assignment had less to do with size and budget, than with the idea of exhibiting a range of concepts applied to buildings of varying functions, scale and dimensions. An area of nine acres accommodates administrative offices, a computer centre, an amphitheatre, a library, classrooms, housing and other components of an institutional design.

Here, at the summit, the library dominates the centre with a seven-storey tower; the administrative offices and classrooms are scattered in a randomness determined by each one's position on the slope. However, the buildings remain tightly connected through corridors that snake upwards to the library along breezy walkways and landscaped courts.

Plan Of A School (2 alternatives)

This plan is contained within a 30 foot square structure. It can be used where only one teacher is available for dealing with a small number of children of different ages. This structure is not uncommon in remote and hilly areas. It is in such regions where education facilities, including the school building itself, are missing or totally inadequate. Seating is indicated in the plan merely to show how the group can either be taught (or act) collectively or be separated into 3 or 4 classes.

This plan contains both a teachers room and a mini stage. By realigning the seating - all can face towards the stage for assembly or dramas or music etc.

Loyola Chapel and Auditorium Sreekarayam, 1971

The Loyola complex contains a high school and a post-graduate complex, both sharing a common chapel and an auditorium. It was here that Baker's skills of cost-reduction met their greatest challenge, as it required a seating capacity of one thousand. In order to increase the lateral strength of the high brick wall, without the introduction of any steel or concrete, Baker devised a wide cavity double-wall with crossbracing brick.

The total covered area of the chapel and auditorium and the gallery is approximately 930 square meters. The cost in 1970-71, including the furniture and appurtenances, lighting and sanitation was kept within the original gift sum of 1.75 lakh rupees.

1. Chapel nave 2. Sanctuary 3. Narthex 4. Sacristy 5. Chapel 6. Terrace 7. Auditorium 8. Stage 9. Green room 10. Toilet

Both the walls were pierced with a continuous floor-to-roof pattern of jails, so that the chapel was adequately, though somewhat mysteriously, lit-and ventilated. Despite its tall proportions, the acoustics of the hall were remarkable-the exposed surfaces and the open patterns of brickwork controlling the reverberations.

Loyola Chapel and Auditorium: Estimate of Cost

Excavation and refilling Concrete foundations 1:4:8 DPC:CM 1:3 crude oil 5% wt c. RR masonry in 1:5 cm first class bricks in 1:5 cm 4.5" brick in 1:4 cm ditto query extra flooring 4"1:4:8 plus c.finish slab floor c. finish 0.5" cm plaster 3 coat whitewashing I Supercem 3 coats (2 and primer) RCframe RCslabs Doors Windows Chapel ceiling Auditorium ceiling Roof weathering 3" jelly tiles etc. AC roofing Steel trusses Sanitation and drains Electrical installation 3% contingencies Furniture for chapel Total cu.ft. cu.ft. sq.ft. cu.ft. cu.ft. sq.ft. sq.ft. sq.ft. sq.ft. sq.ft. sq.ft. cu.ft. cu.ft. 0.06 1.20 0.30 0.95 1.80 0.75 0.75 0.65 0.22 0.03 0.30 11.00 8.00

16,000 1,900 560 3,360 16,100 1,250 1,600 6,840 11,860 11,860 11,860 2,560

960 2,280 168 3,192 28,980 938 1,200 4,480 2,609 355 3,560 8,500 20,480

1,000 2,500 200 3,300 29,000 1,000 1,500 4,500 500 3,000 500 4,000 8,500 20,500 5,000 500 10,000 7,500 2,000 9,000 25,000 2,500 10,000 4,500 18,000 Rs 1,70,000

sq.ft. 1.50 sq.ft. 1.50 cu.wt. 115.



1,725 9,075


Loyola Womens Hostel

Abu Abrahams House

Major Jacobs House


Extension to CSI Church

Baker on 'Laurie Baker Architecture-Columbus is reputed to have discovered America, but a large number of people had been already living there without the publicity of his discovery for a very long time. Similarly, when I made my own little personal discoveries, I realised that I had merely chanced to find an extensive set of building systems which were in no way 'discoveries' to more than five hundred million people! I wanted to make use of this new knowledge in my own work.