Resilien Homes Challenge - shortlisted finalist
Organised by Build Academy, sponspors: World Bank Group, Build Academy, Airbnb, GFDRR, UN HABITAT - for a better urban future
The project embodies the concept of easily constructible homes using vernacular materials and modular system that can be multiplied and combined into units of various sizes. The focus is on quickly rebuilding the townships, creating aesthetically pleasing and functionally feasible environment for fast emotional and economic recovery of the affected regions. The building form is simplified by merging the common elements- the wall and roof are one composite with uniform construction and finishing materials that respond to the necessary functional performance. This structure can be later on expanded into bigger aggregates. A singular housing unit is built of three highly functionally distinguishable modules of living, cleansing and resting.
The materials chosen follow the principles of building a structural skeleton and infill. The rigid frame of the bamboo structure divided into triangles makes the unit flexible enough to withstand the lateral forces of earthquakes. The use of bamboo was selected due to the abundance of the material in Nepal, India and Peru and the local proficiency in using it for buildings. It is also lightweight and flexible in itself, easily transported and financially feasible for the budget of the project.
The construction starts by laying the foundation- a concrete podium to form a flat base along the slopes of the possible site and rigidity against landslides. The structural skeleton is executed in bamboo triangulated frame inserted directly into the concrete. The separate pieces of bamboo are tied together using a simple rope connection-fast and easy to tie, with no metal connectors to be flexible in any direction. The triangles of this structural shell are then infilled with clay and wood sheathing inside, while the outside is treated with exposed woven bamboo. The top part is covered by steel plates that perform as a roof for the whole structure. In order to visually break the material division, the steel wraps the edges of the structure. Thus the steel performs as roof drainage as well as visual bond of the structure.
The materials utilized are familiar for the local constructions. Bamboo is a renewable source found in abundance in Nepal and the region, while concrete and sheet metal are currently used for foundations and roofing and therefore provide the possibility of recycling to achieve greater cost effectiveness. The use of glass is greatly encouraged for the fenestration and the creation of better ambiance within the housing unit, but can also be avoided and replaced by the locally wide spread nets and light textile curtains. The majority of the structural assemblies do not require many tools or specialized knowledge and can be executed by the locals without much professional guidance.
This system can not only achieve building one housing unit but also a quick renewal of villages affected by earthquakes. The singular module of 3x6m while being repeated provides the ability to knit together the more complex symbiosis of the fabric needed for the collective human society and providing space for larger public functions-hospital, school, library, market. In this exercise the 20x20 building plot is left in the background giving priority to the rigidity of the overarching urbanism principles of cohabitation and public spaces of communal significance. The scale of this exercise gets shifted from providing temporary housing after the disaster to rebuilding a more permanent and functional town structure. The suggested solution is using a uniform structural framework that provides both the residential and the public space and responds to the local culture through the ability to bring color or local finishing techniques to the units.
Within the uniform structural shell aided by minimal partitioning elements, the function is separated into living room area, kitchen and bathroom, and bedroom along the 3x6 modular system. These modules can be freely rearranged while preserving the light quality and the natural ventilation of the interior space. The partition walls function as a core inside the open space of the house. The mechanical systems pass through them and provide the main service of water to the house. The enclosure sets back for the building fenestration and thus the slit through is fully transparent. Perpendicular to the line of windows are the openings for ventilation. The facade becomes a porous membrane of vertical bamboo sticks. These openings are directly surrounding the kitchen and respond to the local culture of bringing the cooking space outside of the house. In this solution the kitchen mechanics are still in the overall volume but the space is visually open to the surroundings and naturally ventilated. The exterior cobblestone drainage of the building slides under the facade. This detail reinforces the concept of the uniform system where all the elements are blended and work in a synergy of balancing the aesthetical and functional stability. The finishing materials while being specified as steel sheets and bamboo woven walls (both practices are familiar and typical for Nepal) serve as a canvas for self expression and ‘customizability’ by introducing color or specific technique of woving the bamboo.