After the success in the construction of the community centre, the villagers were happy to begin work on their houses. With close interaction with the families, housing options were developed. Keeping in mind the cost restrictions, the designs had to maximise on the available space.
There were two main aims in the design. One was to achieve a higher level of building quality superior to the local construction methods with the same funds. The other was to include the home owners in the process to develop a sense of pride in them. One of the ways in which this was achieved was to involve them in making the mud blocks for their house.
Here are some of the key features of the house design:
It met with the needs of each family: The house design could be adapted to suit the user requirements. In a square of 20’ by 20’, four different house options were developed from a one bedroom to a four bedroom house just by the addition of lofts. The houses designs were also vastu compliant to adhere to culture of the villagers.
Houses were environmentally friendly: The kitchen plan was made to accommodate Astra smokeless chulhas. This was important to not only to make kitchens smoke-free, but also more energy efficient. Roofs sloped down towards the road to facilitate rain water harvesting and stabilised adobe blocks were used for construction.
They were made to be cost-effective: The cowshed and the bathroom would be constructed from existing bricks and roofs after being tested to ensure strength and durability. Loft, doors and windows would be made from recycled crate wood and the roof sheet from galvalume, which is also recyclable. The adobe blocks do not need to be plastered or painted, which also reduces the cost.
Initially, it seemed like some of the structures may not need to be rebuilt completely and would be improved just with some alterations and additions. But on further inspection of the existing structure with the help of a structural engineer, it was evident that the houses would not support any additions and hence, reusing the materials for new construction would prove to be a better idea. Residents seemed eager to have new and better homes and that was a good start to intervention.