According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute titled India’s Urban Awakening, as India undergoes a rapid urban transformation, the country would need to build 700 to 900 million square meters of new residential space every year for the next 20 years. To meet its current and future demand for housing, India has relied primarily on owner-built housing. In fact, the “majority of the houses in India are constructed by the people themselves with their own resources” using unreinforced masonry, as stated by the Industrial & Economic Planning Division of TCPO (Town and Country Planning Organization of India). SEISMIC HAZARD - In addition, according to the National Disaster Management Authority of the Government of India, “59% of its geographical area is in earthquake hazard zones and over the last century about 75% of fatalities attributed to earthquakes have been caused by the collapse of buildings. A great number of victims die in the collapse of non-engineered weak masonry buildings.” RESOURCE DEPLETION - The fired clay brick industry in India, one of the largest industrial consumer of coal, is polluting the countryside and seriously impacting the fertile topsoil in some regions. The Energy and Resources Institute, a research organization in New Delhi, estimated that in the year 2000 there were at least 100,000 brick kilns nationwide. 

In the interest of understanding and integrating the range and complexity of issues involved, this collaborative research workshop focuses on the development of low-cost affordable housing alternatives in India through in-depth analysis of incremental housing precedents, quantitative assessment of environmental and economic costs, and consideration of resilience to natural hazards. The intention is to develop housing solutions, which are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. The interdisciplinary workshop cuts across the faculties of material science, structural engineering, and architecture and combines field research on incremental housing projects and existing material flows with a semester long exploration of the integration of existing and alternative material systems, design typologies and resilience to hazards. This is the beginning of a two year study and the first four months of work is presented here.


Miho Mazereeuw, John Ochsendorf, Rich Roth, Randy Kirchain, Randa Ghattas, Aditya Barve

David Moses, Barry Beagen, Ana Vargas, Mingxi Zou , Chris Porst, Nathan Kerns, Madeline Gradillas, Lesley Yu, Michael Laracy, Nina Schuchman