China is print­ing houses, why aren’t we?

Emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, ma­te­ri­als, and prod­ucts will play a cru­cial role in de­liv­er­ing af­ford­able hous­ing as tar­geted by Hous­ing for All by 2022 mis­sion. A bricks and sticks approach will not ful­fil the goal of this mis­sion

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Anil Sawh­ney

IIn 2014, a small com­pany in China used 3D print­ing tech­nol­ogy to print a hous­ing unit of 2,200 square feet in a few hours at the cost of US$ 5,000. More re­cently in 2015, an­other Chi­nese com­pany printed a five-storey build­ing with 10 hous­ing units in 24 hours. Tech­nol­ogy is grow­ing leaps and bounds, im­pact­ing ev­ery as­pect of our lives. Are we in In­dia keep­ing pace with tech­nol­ogy in hous­ing con­struc­tion? Due to a plethora of rea­sons we are hes­i­tant to adopt tech­nol­ogy in ad­dress­ing the hous­ing chal­lenge.

Emerg­ing t ech­nolo gies, ma­te­ri­als, and prod­ucts will play a cru­cial role in de­liv­er­ing af­ford­able hous­ing as tar­geted by Hous­ing for All by 2022 mis­sion. A bricks and sticks approach will not ful­fil the goal of this mis­sion. If we have to build the tar­geted 20 mil­lion hous­ing units then we must take steps to em­brace tech­nol­ogy that is ap­pro­pri­ate in the In­dian con­text.

It is en­cour­ag­ing to see that the gov­ern­ment has in­cluded the much-an­tic­i­pated tech­nol­ogy sub-mis­sion. It is high time that in ad­di­tion to talk­ing about land, finance and pol­icy/reg­u­la­tion we also bring tech­nol­ogy and de­liv­ery ca­pa­bil­ity into our dis­cus­sion. With­out ad­dress­ing de­sign and plan­ning issues, in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies and ma­te­ri­als in hous­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity and dis­as­ter re­sis­tance our mis­sion would re­main in­com­plete. For suc­cess­ful ac­com­plish­ment of the ob­jec­tives of the tech­nol­ogy sub-mis­sion the fol­low­ing broad ini­tia­tives are sug­gested:

Knowl­edge dis­sem­i­na­tion frame­work: The is­sue of ur­ban hous­ing is uni­ver­sal with a glob­ally dis­persed knowl­edge base. Ac­cess to this in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge is cru­cial. A na­tional por­tal is needed that helps con­nect peo­ple, pro­cesses, prod­ucts, and prac­tices in an open and neu­tral man­ner. In­for­ma­tion will be dis­sem­i­nated prop­erly and also pro­mote an en­vi­ron­ment of in­no­va­tion.

Re­search, de­vel­op­ment and test­ing in­fra­struc­ture: As we em­brace tech­nol­ogy a na­tional net­work of en­ti­ties en­gaged in cut­ting edge usein­spired R&D in hous­ing con­struc­tion will be needed. Along­side this we will need world­class and modern test­ing cen­tres so that test­ing of var­i­ous as­pects of se­lected tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts can be con­structed in the spirit of ‘pub­lic-good’.

Modern reg­u­la­tory frame­work: The dis­cus­sion on reg­u­la­tory issues gen­er­ally be­gins and ends with ap­proval de­lays and sin­gle-window clearance. Do we have ad­e­quate ca­pac­ity to fol­low through with a reg­u­la­tory frame­work that sup­ports and en­cour­ages use of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts in a safe and se­cure fash­ion? Is qual­ity of con­struc­tion mon­i­tored ad­e­quately by lo­cal build­ing au­thor­i­ties? A sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort is needed to up­grade and mod­ernise our codes, bylaws and en­su­ing ca­pac­ity to im­ple­ment them.

Eval­u­a­tion frame­work for emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies: We need a multi-cri­te­ria eval­u­a­tion frame­work for emerg­ing sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies for res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion. Rather than as­sess­ing tech­nolo­gies by their first­cost alone, and of­ten re­ject­ing them, this frame­work should al­low eval­u­a­tion of hous­ing tech­nolo­gies at a more holis­tic scale by as­sess­ing manda­tory, pre­ferred, and de­sired at­tributes of the tech­nol­ogy be­ing con­sid­ered. At­tributes such as ther­mal and sound in­su­la­tion, end-user ac­cept­abil­ity, mar­ket avail­abil­ity, main­te­nance re­quire­ments etc. are to be con­sid­ered in this frame­work. Such type of anal­y­sis will be needed for the tech­nol­ogy sub-mis­sion to pro­mote in­no­va­tion and com­pe­ti­tion.

Na­tional Tech­nol­ogy Park for in­no­vat i ve t e ch - nolo­gies: Like in many other coun­tries we need an in­no­va­tion park that al­lows us to show­case and un­der­stand in­te­grated hous­ing tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions. This space should be de­signed to pro­mote sus­tain­able habi­tat pro­vid­ing in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal cou­pled with phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture to demon­strate and main­stream in­no­va­tive and emerg­ing so­lu­tions to achieve sus­tain­able habi­tat and to pro­vide gov­ern­ment, academia and in­dus­try a unique plat­form to work col­lab­o­ra­tively on issues per­tain­ing to habi­tat

In­no­va­tive de­sign tech­nolo­gies: Hous­ing projects need to be de­signed with the as­sis­tance of modern de­sign tech­nolo­gies that are gen­er­a­tive and para­met­ric in na­ture. Build­ing In­for­ma­tion Mod­el­ling (BIM), also known as Vir­tual De­sign and Con­struc­tion, can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in mak­ing our de­sign sus­tain­able, end-user friendly, ef­fi­cient and mis­take-proof.

Lean prin­ci­ples for ef­fi­cient de­liv­ery: Mantra to suc­cess in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment for af­ford­able hous­ing projects should be cen­tred on ef­fi­cient ex­e­cu­tion and de­liv­ery. While we keep de­bat­ing about land, finance, pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory issues, it is high time we take de­liv­ery also se­ri­ously. Pro­duc­ing 20 mil­lion houses must also be viewed as a pro­duc­tion prob­lem al­low­ing us to shift from tra­di­tional ac­tiv­ity-centric world­view to a more value-driven world­view. Lean prin­ci­ples, bor­rowed from man­u­fac­tur­ing, can help re­duce waste in con­struc­tion as well as speed up de­liv­ery while main­tain­ing a line of sight on value and qual­ity.

Off­site tech­nolo­gies : Tra­di­tional on­site-based con­struc­tion pro­cesses are now out­dated and must be rethought and reengi­neered if we have to meet the lofty tar­gets of the Hous­ing for All by 2022 mis­sion. Off­site tech­nolo­gies will play a cru­cial role in this. We must start shift­ing to­wards off­site con­struc­tion (man­u­fac­tur­ing) and on­site as­sem­bly. This shift will have a mul­ti­tude of ben­e­fits in­clud­ing bet­ter qual­ity, speed of con­struc­tion, sus­tain­abil­ity, lower costs etc.

We must ap­pre­ci­ate that the In­dian hous­ing sec­tor’s value chain is very com­plex mak­ing dif­fu­sion of emerg­ing and in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies dif­fi­cult. This can­not de­ter us from mov­ing ahead with a pro­gres­sive agenda that meets the goals and ex­pec­ta­tions of this mis­sion. Our quest must be guided by “whole build­ing approach”, “whole life approach” and “whole in­dus­try approach”. This will al­low us to de­velop im­ple­men­ta­tion mod­els that are in­te­grated, work over the en­tire life of the build­ing and en­sure gen­eral up­lift­ing of all stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try. There is a sig­nif­i­cant value cre­ation op­por­tu­nity in this, but we must keep the end-user in mind in all ac­tiv­i­ties we un­der­take as part of this mis­sion.


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