Building homes for poor, not just roofs over their heads

Nivasa, an architectural NGO based out of Bengaluru, dreams this dream for the common man.

Bengaluru: Roti, kapda aur makaan have been the driving force for the people, but with a shortage of 25 million units of rural housing, the dream of owning a house is still a distant dream for many.

Nivasa, an architectural NGO based out of Bengaluru, dreams this dream for the common man. “Architectural intervention in design and material is very essential as housing is not affordable to lower income segments. Nivasa seeks to fill this gap and this is what drives us," says Tanisha Christo, one of the active members and an architect working with Nivasa.

“We are a small group of architects and construction professionals who are completely focused on our projects for housing intervention in the social sector," she says.

Nivasa’s vision is to help every villager own a permanent home. “We seek to provide professional design and construction support for rural housing and infrastructure in India’s villages as a design and build venture. We employ a people-centered design approach, involving the house owner in both the decision-making process and the product. We analyse the climate, local materials and needs and usage patterns of people to develop cost-effective solutions," she said.

One of the projects by Nivasa was rural development at Thimmayyanadoddi that aimed at providing the basic needs for a decent shelter. “The Thimmaiyanadoddi model was an experiment with an outlook to make it a replicable model for other places. After all, once you are the proud owner of a house, and are involved in the rebuilding of the spaces around your house, the level of well-being, self-worth and responsibility towards oneself and on the surrounding environment is likely to increase," she says.

Also, they built houses on the need basis with the donor support. “We are now all set to enter Tamil Nadu with a redevelopment of a village near Mahabalipuram in partnership with NGO Banyan. Another project called Griha is to develop customised design solutions for housing the rural poor. It involves a research phase to develop a core house at the district level that considers local material, environment, socio-cultural sensitivities and economic activities, which will then become a standard template. The core template is then customised for every end user based on the needs and affordability, she said.

“We need and seek donor support in expanding the research to newer areas, for spreading it among the community in current operating districts and in part funding houses for the users," she said.

Their focus for the coming year is to operate in Chitradurga and Udupi districts, for which their team has already done in-depth research. "Over the coming years, we plan to research the rest of Karnataka’s 30 districts and come up with prototype housing solutions, and a strategy to bring design, construction and technology value adds to the rural below the poverty line population." she adds.

Awards galore
Nivasa has received Neighbourhood Parnership Challenge, 2015 and an award at Indo-Dutch Conference, 2014 where three of their projects were selected among entries from 15 countries world over. The event was organised by IISc, Bengaluru and Delft University, Netherlands. It also bagged MSDS Award, 2011-2015.

Alternative housing for labourers
The Nivasa Plus initiative offers a humane and dignified housing for construction workers in cities. “A community is housing, and beyond, it is about a people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group or nationality. Our proposal is to catalyze an initiative amongst all stakeholders to move from labour camp to labour community in each of the construction projects. We are working with RMZ Foundation and the NGO, APSA (Association for Promoting Social Action) on two of their construction labour communities at RMZ EcoWorld, Sarjapur Road, where we hope to impact 1,000 lives this year," she says.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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