Prototype 03 was assembled in contractor JMC’s site inside RMZ Ecoworld campus, Bangalore to test the suitcase unit in external weather conditions.Both JMC and RMZ project managers were supportive of our undertaking.
The unit was given public access. We welcomed inputs from the construction workers who were working on the construction and after it.
Even during the assembly stage, there were curious questions from on lookers “Is this our new site office or a house?”, “Is there a window?”, “Can we enter inside?”, “This structure is becoming stronger day by day!!”. Slowly and steadily they saw the unit come up to settle all their doubts. This was a truly inclusive process!
From the previous version, the size of the structure was reworked. A 12 inch high plinth of size 10 feet x 12 feet was laid for the structure to be assembled on. This was done by JMC workers themselves, under RMZ’s instructions. Each panel was 4 feet wide making the core size 8 feet x 8 feet. The corrugated galvalume sheet was replaced by plain sheet which was easier to fix, making the joinery simple and easy to execute. This however makes the structure more open to dents, though strength is not compromised. Provision for storage was made in the rear, to thermally insulate the structure from the western sun. The kitchen and the verandah were 4 feet x 4 feet each. Prototype 03 was assembled in 7 days, but over a period of 3 weeks due to non-availability of fabricators.
Over the period of construction we received inputs from fabricators, contractors, architects and civil engineers, and non technical people too. Our team was not happy with the finish, the final outcome. We invited a slotted angle fitter who installs shelves for a living to study the structure for bettering the joinery. We realized that the structure could be assembled by a slotted angle fitter with minimal drilling. The plinth tie was critical to hold the entire structure together. We monitored the prototype for a year. During monsoon season we noticed seepage at the plinth level and quickly responded to it by having a 3” cement band internally and externally touching the plinth tie. We noticed that the core needed more ventilation during summer afternoons and the kitchen front panel had to be of a thicker heat absorbing material to accommodate a chullah for cooking.
We invited slum dwellers to visit the structure and documented their responses. They asked for a slightly bigger core area so that a family of four could sleep comfortably. The verandah space was well received. A demarcated space for kitchen and storage racks were appreciated. Construction labourers on the JMC site were excited to see the final outcome. “We never imagined building a house was so easy!”,”Can we build this in our camp?”,”We use this space to relax during our break time and it is comfortable.” were some comments we received. The responses received from the people were over whelming. We were now equipped with the knowledge needed to assemble a suitcase unit and build confidently for a family to live.