India’s Mud House bridges traditional crafts, modern design and sustainable architecture

Emerging practice Sketch Design Studio has completed Mud House, a sensitive Rajasthan home made of mud

A street level view of a modern-looking beige exterior house with thatched roof and steps leading up to an upper level. Surrounded by hills.
Styling: Rahul Kukreja
(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

Sketch Design Studio's founder, Shipra Singhania Sanghi, is passionate about exploring her country's history and traditional crafts, and her latest creation, Mud House, is an expression of her fascination. Located in Alwar, Rajasthan, where the young practice is based, the sustainable architecture project was conceived to bridge past, present and future within a highly curated, single domestic space. 

The structure sits at the heart of four acres of a permaculture-inspired farm, in the countryside outside Alwar. Using time-honed techniques employed by traditional builders in the region, the studio crafted a home made of mud, reclaimed stone and locally found tall wild grasses to tie the roof. These materials help the home remain naturally cool via ventilation and insulation during the region's hot months. At the same time, the design provides several outdoor areas, both on ground level and on a roof terrace, to act as suntraps during the cooler times of the year. 

Steps to the roof terrace of Indian home, called Mud House

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

‘Walls are made in rammed earth using mud from the site mixed with natural binders like lime and fenugreek seeds,' Singhania Sanghi explains. Edibles like jaggery and a popular Indian medicinal leaf, neem, were also added to the mix and act as natural insect repellents.’ At the same time, the mortar used for the stone masonry is a waste product from lime kiln use, called bagra

The Mud House's distinctive pyramidal roof produces an airy main living space inside. An open-plan sitting, dining and kitchen area unfolds underneath it. A variety of making skills by local craftspeople was used to help compose an interior that feels warm and layered, rooted in tradition, but also contemporary. This extends from timber cabinetry to the brick powder mixed with lime that gives the walls their rust tinge, and the bespoke khaat daybed.

‘Throughout the building process, we tried to focus on local artisanal building techniques and materials in the same form they were being used hundreds of years ago,' the designer says of her process for Mud House. ‘A lot of research and talking to elderly masons have helped [us] gain all the knowledge that has helped towards building this house. It is our effort towards bringing architecture closer to Earth through its materials and sustainable lifestyle.' 

Inside a room featuring multiple oval shaped lamps hanging from the celing, a white rug, a low rock chair, a bench, wood furniture.

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

Dark wood rectangular kitchen cupboards, the kitchen side board, a sink.

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

Bedroom with a double bed, white linen, a pot in the corner. Stone walls.

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

A clay pot with branches inside, a double window.

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

terrace and outdoor space of pink house in India

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)

steps to terraces towards pink mud house in India

(Image credit: Jeevan Jyot)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from