Project Model Home is to develop a prototype for a house design that is affordable and that can be built in phases. The prototype home is designed to suite the Kashmiri lifestyle, as well as the climate and seismic conditions in Kashmir.
Working with experts, Kashmir FOA is developing proposals for a house design that would start as a one room shelter and provides for phase expansion of the shelter into a larger house.
The proposed design uses traditional Kashmiri house measurements module called TAQ. The TAQ is a combination of two solid panels and one opening. The module allows for creating a unique contemporary design vocabulary for domestic architecture in Kashmir that is rooted in the traditional architecture of Kashmir. The module design provides standardized building components that could be prefabricated. Prefabrication will in turn lower the building construction cost, speed up construction and open up opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment for the youth in Kashmir.
WHY MAKE THE MODEL
The 2014 Flood caused wide spread damage in Kashmir. An estimated 100,000 homes were lost. As a result, a building construction boom has begun. Building material quality, in particular reinforced concrete, is not assured. Thus the house building construction, for the most part, is unregulated and shoddy.
The property damage by the 2014 Flood was extensive yet the loss of life was minimal. The flood water level rose gradually. This allowed people to seek refuge on upper floors. The rescue boats could ply over on water that was high above the debris-clogged streets.
Kashmir is a seismic prone region where earthquakes are a certainty. In an earthquake, damage will be sudden, there will be no time nor place for refuge. Clogged streets will be impassable. Thus if present construction methods continue, damage to property and life in a future earthquake will be catastrophic.
Traditionally, the Kashmiri construction techniques and materials are made of wood frame structure with mud and lime masonry. Timber which was the main stay of the traditional construction is expensive. Therefore unreinforced masonry and cement concrete is currently being used to replace wood. As the 2005 Earthquake demonstrated, structures with cement concrete slabs over unreinforced masonry are not safe for Kashmir.
At present in Kashmir there are no building regulations to address seismic hazards. The rudimentary building codes that exist, such as required fire gaps, are not enforced. There is no effective oversight to regulate construction. Compounding the problem is that seismic construction requires expertise. The construction workmen, masons and carpenters, engaged in construction in Kashmir are mostly from the Indian plains. They lack experience and knowledge about earthquake resistant construction.
Further, compounding the problem is the urgency of replacing Flood damaged housing. To meet this challenge a number of well-meaning efforts are under way to build emergency shelters. These emergency shelters, tin and cement masonry sheds, are slums in the making.
The prototype design would provide for the following:
1. A safe dwelling that is in keeping with advanced seismic building construction engineering concepts.
2. Phased construction. The house is to be built in phases, over a period of time. First phase is a basic, one room shelter. The shelter incorporates provisions that enable its expansion.
3. Modular standardize building components to reduce construction costs and save time to complete construction.
4. A design (interior room arrangement) suited to the Kashmiri way of life and the building structure suitable to the climatic conditions of Kashmir.