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Godrej Talk the Walk: Dhara Kabaria on recycling and container space

Updated On : 13 Jun 2021
Dhara Kabaria spoke about her projects on container space and recycling materials in an interview with Sibani Sarma for Godrej Talk the Walk.
Godrej Talk the Walk: Dhara Kabaria on recycling and container space

Dhara Kabaria, co-founder of Studio Alternatives, talked about her movable house in an interview with Sibani Sarma, the founder of Galloper. In this episode of Godrej Interio’s Talk the Walk, we featured Dhara Kabaria, an alumnus of the School of Interior Design, CEPT, Ahmedabad with a Masters in 3-Dimensional Design from Kent Institute of Art and Design, Rochester, UK. Let’s take a look what she had to share about her life, career and architecture.

She was asked about one of her most successful projects - the usage of shipping containers in habitable spaces. She mentioned that a client reached them for creating a slip-box concept for their hotel with containers. For this, Dhara spent almost a year studying about containers and they brought in containers to their workshop. Finally, they thought of actually creating atleast one space like this. They met different builders who were selling plots for farmhouses and finally, found a builder and his client who were ready to build a container house. Dhara & her team bought a 40 feet container and converted it into a house, which was their first project. It gained immense popularity and she received many emails and calls for this project.

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The difference was that these container spaces were made in their workshop and then moved to the client’s actual location. So, they don’t work on location for more than one week, which is why these container spaces are seen as a product.

Sibani Sarma asked her how she came up with the idea of upcycling. Dhara said that she had to choose a subject in her Masters in the U.K. as it was a research-based course. So, she wanted to pick something which would be substantial and meaningful. Her Masters research was on alternative use of materials and design and that’s how the whole thing started.

Then she was asked about the perspective of young generation on this recycling concept for homes. According to her, they generally opt for this option when there is a shortage of money or not enough budget. For example, students buy old books because they don’t have money. But Dhara wanted the young generation to choose this concept as a method of protecting the environment and not just as a cost-saving alternative.

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Wasn’t it challenging for her to work on these container space projects? On being asked this question, she said that she generally had to face different problems for this, but as she always wanted to do this, she always found a way to do it. For example, in one project they wanted to make a wall cladding out of motherboard. But their contractor refused to do it as the motherboard was of metal and plastic which could break their blade. Then they went to a fabricator but were told the same thing. That didn’t phase Dhara as she bought a cutting machine to get it done.

This is where Dhara got the idea of having her own workshop. Other people are not ready to do any experimental stuff, so they opened their own workshop where they could create new things out of recycled materials.

They stayed in touch with “bhangarwalas” who kept them informed about what they had and if the stuff could be utilised in any of their work. Dhara said, “We are still in an experimental phase about recycling, so we have to keep doing it so that after some years, people finally get a clear concept of it and can create sustainable stuff by upcycling.”

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Lastly, she thanked her entire team without whom she wouldn’t be able to have such a nice workshop.