• Reinterpretation of Building Materials by Deepa Suriyaprakash

    Welcome to a discussion on the innovative reinterpretation of building materials, presented by Deepa Suriyaprakash at the Indian Interior Design and Architecture Summit (IIDA) 2023. This event, featured a panel of distinguished architects and designers from across India. The theme of the summit was “Architecture and Beyond: Building Community by the People, for the People.”

    Deepa Suriyaprakash: A Brief Background

    Deepa Suriyaprakash is a prominent architect and founding partner of Between Lines, Bangalore. She holds a degree in architecture from the National Institute of Technology. Furthermore, she pursued studies in the theory of architecture and design at Ohio State University. With extensive experience from working with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, she has been at the forefront of innovative architectural practices since her return to India in 2008. Her interests span travel, teaching, critical theory, graphic design, and material studies.

    Journey into Material Exploration and Waste Management

    Suriyaprakash’s journey as an architect has been deeply influenced by her fascination with materials. Starting as a student, her continuous exploration led her to fully immerse herself in waste management around 2015. She founded a company to help manage and segregate waste, which heightened her awareness about the lifecycle of materials.

    Reinterpreting Building Materials

    At the summit, Suriyaprakash discussed her approach to using materials in architecture. Additionally, emphasizing the need to return to methods where communities can build with their own hands. Historically, building materials were local, reusable, and accessible, a practice that has diminished with industrialization. Her philosophy advocates for a “cradle to cradle” model, promoting sustainable practices that minimize waste and maximize material reuse.

    Material Innovation in Projects

    Deepa shared several examples demonstrating innovative use of materials:

    1. Granite Scraps to Gabion Walls: Utilizing discarded granite pieces to create aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound gabion walls.
    2. Composite Wall Systems: Using leftover quartz and granite trims to protect mud walls, blending traditional methods with modern aesthetics.
    3. Adaptive Reuse: Employing car windshields as façade elements, showcasing how materials can be repurposed without significant energy expenditure.
    4. Hume Pipes as Cabins: Proposing the use of Hume pipes as sleeping cabins for a resort, demonstrating an inventive reuse of industrial materials.

    The Secondhand House

    In one notable project, Suriyaprakash built a house for her aunt in Chennai using predominantly secondhand materials. From bricks to grills and tiles, all elements were sourced from the seconds market. This project exemplifies how architects can create cost-effective, aesthetically unique homes by repurposing materials.

    People’s Participation and Empowerment

    Suriyaprakash emphasized the importance of community involvement in construction. By empowering people to participate in building their own homes, architects can foster a sense of ownership and sustainability. She cited examples from a small village, Tanur, where locals reuse materials from historical structures for their own building needs, embodying the principle of adaptive reuse.


    Deepa Suriyaprakash’s presentation at the IDAS 2023 Summit highlighted the potential of reinterpreting building materials through sustainable practices and community involvement. Her work challenges contemporary architects to rethink the lifecycle of materials, advocate for eco-friendly construction methods, and empower individuals to participate in the building process. As the world grapples with environmental challenges, such innovative approaches to architecture are not just relevant but necessary for a sustainable future.

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