Summer Internship with COSTFORD – Sindhura from JNAFAU

And now we have the final winner, the ultimate champion! Sindhura’s internship story received a whopping 2,700+ likes on facebook and won The Grand Prize (flipkart gift voucher worth Rs. 5,000/-). Many congratulations Sindhura – you deserved it!

Also Daily Winner for: –  21st August 2011

Name of the intern: –  Sindhura

Institute: –  School of Planning and Architecture, JNAFAU, Hyderabad

Organization interned with: –  Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), Trivandrum, Kerela

Experience in my 10th sem @ Kerala, Trivandum — “The Greatest of the Greats – Mr. Baker”

COSTFORD, Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development, is a non-profit organization that tries to reduce building costs so that through scientific approaches to common materials and techniques housing comes within the reach of the poorest people but are equally acceptable to all. It was formed on March 15th, 1985,under the leadership and guidance of Shri. C. Achutha Menon, the former CM of Kerala and Padmashree Late Dr. Laurie Baker was the Chief Architect and Chairman.

Mr. Baker popularly known as DADDY was a great fan of Mahatma Gandhiji whose ideologies greatly influenced him in all his works. The words of Gandhiji that impressed him the most were – ‘the ideal houses in the ideal village shall be built of materials which are all found within a five-mile radius of the house.’

“Cost-effective houses are not just for the poor, they are for everyone”, Baker said. He makes use of simple local materials, to create a perfect blend between the elements of Indian vernacular architecture and Western technology, creating buildings close to its environs. One of the main components of Baker’s style was his use of ‘JAALIS’, which let in abundant light and air thus eliminating the additional costs which may incur. Baker was truly branded for his low cost style as he is known to make use of everything from brick to glass bottles as building materials. His work demonstrated his strengths and his perception of the existing tradition, technology and lifestyle.

My experience in COSTFORD:

My interest of working in COSTFORD popped up when I had documented the works and methodologies of Ar. Laurie Baker, as part of my academic work. Fascinated by his works, I decided to undergo my training in his firm at any cost. After spending 3-4 days with my family touring places in and around Kerela, I stepped into my hostel only to slay 3 cockroaches before dozing off on the floor. The first day in my office started off with a Malayalam meeting that left me bizarre. I slowly picked up small little words that helped me communicate with inmates because English wasn’t known to many. I landed myself in humiliation many a times when people stared at me continuously each time I held out my pink umbrella (theirs was black :P) to protect myself from heat and rains. Life in Trivandrum wasn’t easy as expected, as I spent my life amidst countless number of lizards, cockroaches, a guard dog, white dhotis and black umbrellas.

I happened to learn a lot from people associated with the firm and have had my hands laid on some of the important ongoing projects,  had been to a lot of slum surveys as part of Slum Redevelopment projects to find myself amidst inhabitants suffering from chikun guinea. I very often visited ongoing projects that helped me learn all the techniques from head to toe. I truly cherish each moment spent with the COSTFORD team.

My joy knew no bounds when I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Baker twice, once on his birthday and another on Christmas Eve. We presented him with handmade greeting cards and a cake that brought a wide smile on his face. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and stared at him till we finally had to leave his hamlet. His demise on April 1, 2008, came as a horrifying shock to each of us. I salute his passion, dedication, simplicity, hard work, fun loving nature, and above all his contribution to the society. He is beyond doubt ‘the Greatest of the Greats.’

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62 thoughts on “Summer Internship with COSTFORD – Sindhura from JNAFAU

  • August 28, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    lucky u r…..:-)

  • August 28, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    thks kuldeep

  • August 28, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    really verymuch lucky u r

  • August 28, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    thks a lot again

  • August 28, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Im sure your memorable moments there will add flavor to your classes/ teachings. All the Best!!
    And Surely…Mr. Baker will remain as an undisputed legend in the field of vernacular architecture…Salutes :)

  • August 29, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    seriously srikar.. tht was the bestest i cud have asked for.. sittin in front of him was.. like .. “OMG.. is tht him”
    n yeah obv he was, is, n wil b the legend 4ever…

  • August 29, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    hi Sindhu.. I am interested to know what kind of influence this had/has on your life/work!!

  • August 29, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    lucky girl ….good luck

  • August 29, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    hi nithya.. sittin in front of him n talkin to him ws the gr8est experience ever..
    in COSTFORD i had learnt so much.. especially during my site visits (every alternate day or twice in a wk) ver the low cost construction techniques ver being employed, some of vch cud b applied anyver.. but ppl hardly make an effort bcz they are so obsessed with the RCC stuff…
    the contribution tht Baker n his wife made to the society wil def b a learning to every individual who were /are/ wud b associated with him..
    had a prob with the language n fud, but the ppl n wrk culture out-powered the rest..

  • August 29, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    @ raja.. yeah lucky me :D.. thks

  • August 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    guys im so sry i have a correction.. his demise was on apr 1, 2007 not 2008.. must have hpnd due to my quick typing :(

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    wud describe few things vch I cudnt actually include in the article.. the entrance to the office jus mingles with the environment of the surroundings n is barely known to ppl.. the nameplate of the office is hardly seen.. the steps are carved within the topography n 1 has to b v v careful to climb thm up.. ther is a lot of exploitation of the undulating surface n the heights.. at the 1st level is his son’s house.. 2nd level is our office(had guys hostel included.. changed to a draftin rm now) n the 3rd is his home.. the 1st time I got the opportunity to visit his home was on his bday Mar 2, 2007.. the entrance wall is so attractive.. it is actually made of sum kinda pebbles.. broken tiles.. broken pots.. broken glass etc ..jutted to the brick wall.. ther is a traditional bell (the temple bell type).. v ver greeted by Mrs. Baker n she was the 1 who toured us around the house showin n explainin abt all the rms.. has a chat with Mr. Baker.. n u knw he is such a lovely n fun loving person.. (it was sad to c tht he was so unwell thn..he cudnt recog even the knowns v easily).. v made a move to see every nook n corner of his house n at each pt. he proved tht his simple techniques can actually bring grandeur to a place.. the material he uses the furniture the open spaces tht connect to the interiors is jus so beautiful.. I was actually v scared to climb the wooden stairs tht led to the upper level bcz they ver really shaky :P.. the maintenance infact wasn’t proper may b bcz the couple ver old or may b bcz ther was no one to tc of..
    On April 1st vn he closed his eyes.. u know wt.. it actually rained… I was rite ther til all the rituals tuk place.. he was put in a coffin n sealed in a brick wall in his own designed church.. was so damn depressing.. The joint director stil keeps sayin.. u ver the last trainee of DADDY.. its jus tht I cud not get his signature on my training report :(

    ther is so much more to say but i can never cover the whole..

    • May 18, 2017 at 7:53 PM

      Sindhura..tht was a nice touchin experience…laurie baker is always living in our hearts..and
      im going to intern in costford from august..cant wait for it…

  • August 30, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    u r lucky…

  • August 30, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    thks karthik..

  • August 30, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    thk u all.. im overwhelmed with ur response.. thks guys

  • August 31, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    hi.dont you remember any human being ?? only lizards, dog,cockroach..??

  • August 31, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    ayyo mano.. i mentioned COSTFORD team ther.. u din read it properly kya??

  • August 31, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    you are 100% right…he is the Greatest of the Greats in our field of architecture.. thank you very much for the rememberence.

  • August 31, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    thks sajan… i wanted to write so much but i jus cannot finish it in a couple of sentences.. he deserves a book to b written.. its v sad to know tht there are no gud books written on him.. ther is only 1 small buk in my library… :(
    bcz neither Mr. Baker nor the COSTFORD team ever yearned for popularity or publicity..

  • August 31, 2011 at 5:57 AM

    Building creatively with frugality has rarely been recognized by the architecture community.. We were deeply hurt when, in 2006, the Pritzker was awarded to Paulo Mendes da Rocha for an architecture that was an antithesis of daddy’s. We realized it only a year later that the architecture community had failed to pay its dues and respect to this great soul.

    It has been hard to appreciate and talk about the architecture of a man of simplicity, goodness and truth.. Maybe these are the words of Gandhi that echo in daddy’s works..

    “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” wrote Gandhiji in 1921.. way before Baker met him.

    Nice to read about your experience at COSTFORD. Congrats.. and hope you stay on a similar road untravelled! Please do find time to share or blog about his works that you have studied, photographed or seen.. architecture that the world needs to know.

  • August 31, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    thks a ton for sharing sum v valuable things abt DADDY Varun.. S i feel equally bad abt his wrk not being recgnised.. atleast this way ppl wil know n read abt him.. n s i do have sum of the works photographed tht ver on wheel thn… i submitted the whole report of sum of the old projects, my site visits, the techniques an technologies tht ver being adopted and the way the project strs n ends… to the costford office.. but i do not know how to create a blog on my own.. il try to do it 1 de 4 sure…

  • August 31, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    ohh..!!!!!! you are damn lucky ya…..

  • August 31, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Your story was worth reading..for me you’re a stranger..i just got this link through a common friend..all the best to you for your future.

  • August 31, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    thks a lot hardeep… happy tht u liked the story…

  • September 1, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Ur one of the most luckiest one on the earth.

  • September 1, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    :P thks

  • September 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    thnks sindhura..

  • September 5, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    Wow.. rare to find the people who finds happiness in work but great to know that u r worshiping ur work..please come up with a book..after reading this even i am feeling like writing something..

  • September 5, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    Wishing u success at every step :)

  • September 5, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    @ Ashok… thks a lot for ur appreciation.. il surely try my best..

  • September 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    @ shrivalli.. thks a lot

  • September 5, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    congrats ur 2 lucky yar…………

  • September 8, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    lucky you!good luck in everythg!!mwahsss

  • September 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    @ jeevan n afreen.. thks a ton..

  • September 8, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    Love the article..I’m so happy for you sindhura..wish you all success and you deserve it.Thumbs up!!!

  • September 8, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    thks a lot deepak… on cloud 9 now :P

  • September 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Congrats …. ur lucky to c him…n work with him.. n my appreciation to u for taking time n sharing it with everyone..

  • September 9, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    @ sunthosh.. thks a lot.. im happy abt the feedbac im gettin from every1

  • September 9, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    yes sindhura… u r very lucky!!!

  • September 9, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    @indu.. thk u :)

  • September 11, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Yes.Thanks a lot to know such good.Once again thanks a lot to sindhu,GOOD LUK TO YOU.


  • September 11, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    @ P.MaruthaiahPillai Sir.. thk u so much for commenting as well.. :)

  • September 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    congratulations on our win…

  • September 12, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    thks punit.. congrats to u 2

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    @punit and sindhura…very tough competition…..even very hard to predict one day before who will win….

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    congrats to both of you….

  • September 14, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    @gaurav gupta.. yeah was a tough cal.. :P

  • September 14, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Congratula……………………………… tions………………………..

  • September 15, 2011 at 11:01 PM


  • September 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM


  • September 25, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    Congratulation Sindhura its gr8 achievement in history of JNAFAU, being the first person to title “The Greatest of the Greats – Mr. Baker”….lot more great days to come ….

  • September 27, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    oo thks u so much sir.. :) im so happy to receive ur comment.. Sir?? can u tel me to vch col of architecture u belong??

  • October 4, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    really u r great……….

  • March 6, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    it was a great read!! really evev im inspired by Dr.Laurie Baker. im a 4th yr student studying architecture..even i want to do my internship at COSTFORD. can i directly apply frm the costford website? wat r the chances of them accepting me?

  • March 21, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Just came to this link while lookin for up summer internships….am glad that u had such an enriching experience…and the indelible lessons will surely guide you in all your future pursuits….God Bless….

  • March 22, 2012 at 2:08 PM


    thanks a lot JM..

  • May 27, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Beautiful dear…thatz amazing Sindhu…OMG Great Great work done..!

    Keep It up..

    ” Let GOD Bless you wid all the happiness and all ur dreamz come true ”

    Splendid work done by the beautiful Lady ” SINDHURA”

  • June 15, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Hello Sajan chetta………………

    Sajan chetta email id? Pls reply.

    Hari Sankar

  • February 4, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Not just this.Baker took into his fold few children whom he brought up to be individuals of merit.Only those close to him knew of this and he himself never cared to disclose. A glimpse of him some 15 years back in Attappadi simply bowled this writer over and every time thinking of building something, brings him to the fore.Hats off to Baker


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