Monday, 28 March 2011

Affordable Habitat

Affordable Habitat in India

President Pratibha Patil mentioned affordable housing as the need of the hour during her speech speech on Bharat Nirman, a project that plans to double the construction of low cost houses to 12 million units. According to a research by Unitus Capital, the current housing deficit in India is estimated at 40.3 million units. According to 2008 Monitor Group report, around 21 million households don't have a proper home due to lack of land titles & volatility of earnings on a day-to-day basis.

The government has attempted at building houses for the Low Income Groups (LIG) and issuing loans to them. But the efforts seam to be non-fitting and inadequate. Some builders like Value and Budget Housing Corporation Pvt. Ltd., Janaadhar Constructions Pvt. Ltd. have made their own efforts in this direction too. Tata Housing has recently identified the low-cost and affordable housing segment as a significant market with substantial growth opportunities. It has, therefore, launched a new subsidiary "Smart Value Homes Limited" that will cater to houses in the Rs. 5 - 35 lakh range.

With all these positive developments coming across, we are reminded of the Tamil Nadu Government's building project for LIG. The establishment was for squatters who made a living by selling milk. After a ceremonious inauguration of the apartments, the milkmen were shifted to these one room homes. After a month, the neighbors were surprised to see that the milkmen went back to their old beds under the sky and the buffaloes inhabited the houses. The milkmen felt that their buffaloes were more productive when housed in comfortable conditions and hence decided to opt this way.

Why does such noble attempts keep on failing time and again?

One major reason behind the failure of low-cost housing is: for LIG, a house is a place to live as well as work. Thus the context is building of AFFORDABLE HABITAT rather than AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The next most important aspect is humanizing the HABITAT through simultaneous innovations in construction technology, design, management, socio-economic interactions, finance and sustainability.

Affordable and Sustainable Habitat

In response to the burning need of affordable housing, Shenoy Innovation Studio, IDC, IIT Bombay has entered into a partnership with Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Switzerland and ACC Ltd., India. Thus SIS has initiated a thorough research on all existing know-how for creating an affordable and sustainable habitat. The research topics encompass the following different domains:

As is evident from the above mind map, the research is a multi-disciplinary effort. To achieve this, a collaborative innovation team has been formulated whose composition is as follows:

 About the Partners
Shenoy Innovation Studio is studio at Industrial design Centre, IIT Bombay and is aimed to aid industries in crating disruptive innovation by designing methodologies tailored to their specific needs and conditions. It brings in the strong amalgamation of design, technology and management thinking from various disciplines of IIT Bombay. Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement aggregates as well as further services like ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services. Holcim Foundation on the other hand is supported by Holcim but is independent of its commercial interests. The foundation is committed towards sustainable construction. Holcim is represented by ACC Ltd. India and are one of the largest cement manufacturers in India