Habitat Observatory

    Build Transportable Houses
  How much time does it take to build a house? Four to six months at the least? What if we say, 1 day!

The above dream can be turned into a reality through an insulated precast block technology. With this technology, one can build up to four houses in a day. The panels can be transported from the factory and can be placed like blocks one above the other.

Two blocks of 240 sq. ft. and 160 sq. ft. form one house unit of 400 sq ft. These blocks are placed and linked on the corners with a grid of iron pillars, which are deliberately made stronger by complex interlocking system, hence giving more longevity to structures better than conventional construction practices.

Gavin Moore, an architect patented the technology and set a trend in low and private residential housing in New Zealand. In 2007, they set up a branch in India and since then, they have constructed around 1,20,000 households. Mr.Morre said, “Unlike conventional technology that uses walls as units, we use blocks”.

In India, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has piloted one large-scale project. They are building residential apartment complexes for the economically weaker sections. Till date, 1520 houses on 12 acres of land at Alur, off Dasanapura, Hobli in Bangalore, North Taluk have been built.

These precast house modules can be transported on trucks from the factory/plant, where they are built and placed on the site. The flooring, windows, kitchen benches and commodes are fitted in the factory itself. Even the electric wiring, including switches and plumbing work are all done in the factory. The staircase is also precast in the factory, which can be placed as an additional block for high-rise. About 95% of the work is completed in the factory, which are then transported and assembled on the construction site.

Technical specifications:

Housing Unit Area • 2 blocks: 240 sqft + 160 sqft = 400 sqft/HH unit Facility • Inbuilt furniture, plumbing and wiring Structure Stability • Complex interlocking of iron columns. More longevity then conventional construction • Earthquake resistant (category- 3 earthquakes) Wall Structure • Outer wall: 4” thick • Inner wall: 3” thick

The cost of construction is at par with the conventional practices but has a much higher edge on saving time, which helps prevent cost escalation. BDA has obtained license from Moore to replicate such housing schemes on a larger scale across Bangalore and towards replication of the technology to meet the current housing deficit.

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    Pune’s Incremental Housing Strategy: Houses for the people, by the people
  In Pune, the experience of upgrading the Yerwada slum may have well been paving the way for a new planning paradigm, wherein slum dwellers become active participants in the (formal) city development process. In 2009, the long-standing Alliance that unites the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mahila Milan - a CBO originally formed by the Mumbai women pavement dwellers- and the National Slum dwellers Federation of India (NSFI) invited architects Filipe Balestra and Sara Goränsson from Sweden - based Urban Nouveau firm to offer their inputs for the Yerwada slum-upgradation plan. The idea was to build on the existing assets of the residents, rather than following a classic demolition - redevelopment pattern which would impact their livelihood prospects and damage the social fabric.

The project was kick-started with a seven-month long consultation phase. Towards the end of it, Urban Nouveau invited each family to choose from three possible home designs for their 25 sqm plots. The first one, a three-storied house, featured an empty space at the ground floor level that could accommodate a workshop. The second design was also a three-storied house, but with a vacant middle floor, which the family could use as a veranda for various activities. The last design comprised of two floors that the family could later expand into a three-storied building.

The project attracted the public authorities’ attention, and received funds under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor Scheme (BSUP) of the Jawarharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The entry of the government in the project was crucial, as Rs. 2,70,000 subsidy was made available to each member of the scheme, accounting to 90% of the cost for each home-upgradation. Families had to provide the remaining 10%, amounting to about Rs. 30,000 per family. Micro-loan facilities were provided for those who could not provide the down payment. The home-upgradation went hand-in-hand with regularisation: each member of the scheme would receive a 99 year lease over the land once their house is completed.

Samudaya Nirman Sahayak, the building branch of SPARC, undertook the construction work. The participation was everything but a linear process: after the project received funding from JNNURM, the architectural work was taken over by Prasanna Desai Architects. The community strongly opposed the latter’s proposal to increase the width of alleyways by reducing the size of individual plots. A new series of consultations was then required to gain a better understanding of the families’ expectations and thus maintain their support. This gave an opportunity to gather some valuable learnings: for instance, some families showed preference for toilets outside rather than inside the house, and designs were amended accordingly.

By 2012, the project had reached over 750 households. Following its success, the Alliance’s construction company was contracted to initiate slum-upgradation in seven other settlements in Pune.

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