The non-profit organisation (SEEDS) took up the housing reconstruction initiative in Assam after the devastating floods of 2017, working with local organisation NEADS (North-east Affected Area Development Society) to design and build the houses.
The development was formulated with a vision to build resilient communities through participatory design, illustrating a model of contemporary vernacular architecture in an area where the annual phenomenon of flooding and repeated loss due to that perpetuates poverty.
Environmentally sustainable solutions were discovered in the vernacular architectural typology of stilt houses built in bamboo. A 23-square-meter core house built atop stilts was designed following sphere humanitarian standards for disaster response within the given budget constraint; its high stilts helping to cope with the annual flooding while its flexible joinery system allows the homeowners to shift the floor higher in case of overflooding – a unique feature that was adopted from the traditional practice of the region.
The organisation adopted an owner-driven approach, enabling house owners to have a say in the design and construction. A team of architects worked with local families to come up with a hybrid housing design — one that married modern technology with local traditional architecture.
The layout of the house is simple and multipurpose, supporting the lifestyle of the local community. The stilts are high enough to allow day-to-day activities such as weaving, rearing livestock, and the storage of boats, used during floods or a play space for children, and a semi-open verandah is provided for social interaction, food preparation or basketry as done traditionally by the communities.
Architects and Artisans worked together to develop disaster-resilient construction details that could be built using local materials and skills. Required changes were made to enhance the conventional construction details such as deeper bamboo footings encased in concrete; stilt bamboo columns waterproofed with a rubberized coating; introduction of cross-bracings and use of indigenous tying techniques with rattan and bamboo dowels to make the structure resistant to lateral forces during floods and earthquakes.
Source – designboom