Thursday, 24 November 2011

Report - Research on Current Affordable & Sustainable Habitat Scenario in India

Executive Summary

India is a nation of 1.21 billion people facing multiple challenges. One of the major challenges is providing every household with affordable homes. According to statistical findings, a household with less than Rs. 7,000 (110€) (in monthly income) cannot afford to build their house and government subsidies and interventions are required. Government of India is currently running many schemes in this domain to help this segment. On the other hand, households with a monthly income of Rs. 7,000 (110€) – Rs. 20,000 (312€) can afford houses at an expense of Rs. 300,000 (4700€)– Rs. 1,000,000 (15,600€). After the economic downturn of 2008, the booming real estate industry of the country shifted their attention to this segment, as it is immune to the market fluctuations in income and is deemed as a growing market.

The first group (<Rs 7,000) mostly form the rural BPL and the metropolitan/ urban BPL living in slums and shanties. The rural market is very big in India as 2/3rd of the population still lives in villages. But the market till date seamed very unattractive to the private sector due to its thin density. Hence in spite of government subsidies, there have hardly been many NGOs and no private players. But the situation seams to change very soon with TATA group announcing its “Nano House” for this market. The group is working on developing a flat pack of components including walls, windows and doors at Rs. 32,000 (500€). The flat pack can be assembled by the house owner. The house can be very well funded through the Indira Awas Yojana funds that are provided by the government to this segment.

The second group (Rs 7,000 – Rs 20,000) mostly resides in the urban sector and the metropolitan slums. There are many private players in this domain including experienced and big names like the Tata and new comers like Value and Budget Housing. To be able to make profit in this market, it is very important to realize that it is a low margin (profit approximately 20%) but a high volume market. Hence optimization and streamlining of supply chain, construction management, time and global sourcing are the strategies that are being used. Some companies like Projectwell are coming up which aim at bringing in affordability through supply chain management and supplying prefab components. The government has also initiated schemes like JNNURM and Rajiv Awas Yojana to build homes for the lower tiers of this group.

There is yet another third category of slum dwellers whose income lies anywhere in both groups. They usually live in metropolitans over encroached public/ private land. This market possesses the unique behavior of being able to maximize the utilization of their available resources. For example, the space that is used for sleeping at night turns into a workshop for a company in the morning and provides the owner with extra income. The inhabitants make very efficient use of their small 3D spaces and every cubic cm is used.

As mentioned all the three scenarios require and present good opportunity for creative and synergic design intervention. Hence the goal of our research project is to identify aspects and factors affecting this domain and thereafter HUMANIZE THE HABITAT THROUGH DESIGN INTERVENTION THAT SYNERGIES:

Culture specific socioeconomic interactions
Energy and waste management
Innovations in construction materials & technology
Construction management

The rural and the urban sector seam to be the most opportune scenarios than the slums since it is a politically sensitive area. Also inhabitants don’t own land titles in most cases and hence don’t like to spend in building more permanent structures.
Possibilities of mass manufacturing components rather than houses need to be looked on to bring in affordability as the definition of home for an Indian lies in being able to represent personal needs, wants and desires. Hence a prospective direction of work can be identification of components that can be mass manufactured to build homes. Some examples can be locally adapted roofing system, walls, partitions, doors, windows, kitchen, WC, etc.

India being a very large country with huge diversities in climate, needs, wants, traditions and rituals, careful collection, management and dissemination of this information is required for the long-term success of any housing project.

Affordable and ready availability of adequate financing options is very important for success in this domain. Hence a creative design intervention in this domain is stressed.

Technical support, knowledge sharing, Industrial  and prototyping support and financial support from all collaborating partners will bring a break-through housing product range in the market.