Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion with­out destruc­tion

Down to Earth - - LIFESTYLE -

SHIVAJI NA­GAR is a re­set­tle­ment colony planned in the 1980s. Houses here are built on small plots, mea­sur­ing 10 x 15 feet or 12 x 15 feet (1 ft is 0.3 m). Urbz had to build two in­de­pen­dent floors in place of an old one-storey house on one such plot for Pankaj Gupta, a res­i­dent of the colony. He wanted to rent out the up­per-storey rooms. Since the colony is on marsh­land, Urbz built its foun­da­tion in ac­cor­dance with lo­cal con­struc­tion meth­ods. Since the wa­ter ta­ble is high, it used wa­ter from foun­da­tion pits and soak pits for cur­ing rcc (re­in­forced ce­ment con­crete) work. Ma­te­ri­als sal­vaged from the ex­ist­ing build­ing were used to build the new one. All these en­sured op­ti­mal use of re­sources and re­duced the con­struc­tion cost.

Since the plot size is small, at­ten­tion was paid to op­ti­mise space, al­low ven­ti­la­tion and pen­e­tra­tion of day­light, and en­sure so­lid­ity of the struc­ture. But mu­nic­i­pal norms reg­u­late con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity in slums. One such norm re­quired Urbz to limit the height of the build­ing to 14 feet on the front side and to 16 feet on the rear side. But how does one make such a diminu­tive space hab­it­able for two fam­i­lies.

To over­come the chal­lenge, Urbz re­stricted the ceil­ing height of the ground floor at 8 ft. This re­duced the height of up­per storey house to less than 6 ft in the front. But its sloped roof al­lowed am­ple head space on the rear side. To keep the up­per-storey house well-lit and well-ven­ti­lated, the roof, made with tin sheets, was split into two and were laid in a way that one por­tion of the roof shaded the other with a gap of 1.5 ft. Since tin sheets get heated fast, ther­mo­col and ply sheets were used un­der the roof for in­su­la­tion. Cof­fer slabs were used as ceil­ing of the ground floor on an ex­per­i­men­tal ba­sis. To save on con­crete, lo­cally avail­able earthen pots were used as filler ma­te­rial in the slabs. This re­duced the over­all cost of the roof by ` 2,000, while cre­at­ing an in­ter­est­ing de­sign that helped the owner save ` 80-100 per sq ft on false ceil­ing.

The house was com­pleted in 2014, but could not find any tak­ers due to its diminu­tive­ness. On pa­per, the ver­ti­cal com­pact­ness made er­gonomic sense, but in re­al­ity it could not sat­isfy peo­ple’s psy­cho­log­i­cal need for head room. Gupta de­cided to in­crease the height of the over­all struc­ture to im­prove its liv­abil­ity. He could eas­ily do it as the orig­i­nal de­sign pro­vided for fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

URBZ LO­CA­TION Shivaji Na­gar, Go­vandi, Mum­bai COST Ap­prox­i­mately 12,000/sq m IN­NO­VA­TION En­sured ven­ti­la­tion, day­light pen­e­tra­tion and stor­age space in houses built on a small plot. To re­duce con­struc­tion cost, cof­fer slabs and earthen pots were used to build the ceil­ing

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