Excerpt: Gau-Ghar is an architectural project designed by Compartment S4 in Gujarat, India. This is a cowshed designed for 80-85 cows along with ancillary facilities. The cows were to be divided into milking cows, non-milking cows, pregnant cows, calves, and bulls. The existing site condition and the divisions amongst the cows guided the layout of the gaushala.
[Text as submitted by architect] It is a general perception amongst people who run a gaushala that keeping cattles in an enclosed space and feeding them is all that is required to keep the cattles healthy. Cattles are kept in gaushalas that do not have appropriate shelter and they have to stand in the open in extreme weather conditions. There is usually overcrowding and not enough space for cattles to eat adequately. Water troughs are not well designed and placement is not suitable for cows to drink. Sewage drainage systems do not exist which causes puddles of faeces. This leads to infection on cattles feet and decreased immunity. There is rarely segregation between cattles according to age group or health condition. There is no moisture control and natural ventilation in most of the shelters. Such problems can be resolved if the built environment is designed in a way that is sensitive to cattles and provides all required facilities.
A well-designed cattle shelter that is sensitive to the cattle with efficient space management, circulation, drainage, and ventilation systems is an integral part of cattles’ health and milk yield. The project is located in the Surendranagar district of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. This is a cowshed designed for 80-85 cows along with ancillary facilities. The cows were to be divided into milking cows, non-milking cows, pregnant cows, calves, and bulls. The existing site condition and the divisions amongst the cows guided the layout of the gaushala. The space is designed considering the efficiency of the flow of inlet food materials for the cows and the removal of organic waste from cow feces and urine. The systems to collect organic waste and milk and convert it into usable products are incorporated in the design.
Along with technical detailing, major efforts have been put to make the building with sensitive details that make a friendly environment for the cows to live in. There is maximum open area provided and there is a subtle transition from semi-open to open space. A part of the project also includes milk processing units and office space which are designed by giving internal courtyards, making the space open to multiple uses.
Bamboo is the primary material used to make the shed. The bamboo structure is placed on steel columns. Multiple steel joints are fabricated at the junctions for making the bamboo joints efficient. The flooring is an exposed brick flooring that does not heat up and is not slippery. Jute cloth is used as a heat insulator below the tin sheets on the roof. Apart from the shed, the main walls are stone masonry as it is cost-efficient and locally available in the area. Local mud plaster techniques are used for the wall.
Previously each cow yielded 1-3 liters of milk per day when they were kept in a steel shed which wasn’t planned well. Now the milk yield per cow per day is about 4-6 liters. There is a drastic change in the milk yield of the cows which is directly proportional to the health of the cows. This shed we designed facilitates well being of the cows and provides a happy home to the cows. The space is 3-4 deg Celcius lower in temperature compared to the outside. The skylight provides ambient natural light throughout the day. Cross ventilation features to control the moisture levels in the space. All these characteristics directly affect the cow’s health.