FAST & FUTURISTIC HOMES

How about living in a house where you don’t need to switch on lights during daytime or you don’t need a plumbing or a wiring job done ever? These are some features of the futuristic houses being designed by some of the finest brains of the country in an endeavour to bring down the cost of construction by 20-40 per cent.

Some 20 IIT professors, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, are working on a pilot project that will not only bring down the cost, but also reduce the time required to build a house. The Government has given the IITs the mandate to develop a model with flat size in the range of 21-27 square metres (approximately 210-270 sq ft).

B. K. Chakravarthy, Head, Industrial Design Centre at IIT-Bombay, said the main idea behind the project is to create an integrated solution for energy efficient and eco-friendly houses and high-quality mass production of building materials that can bring down the cost of construction by 10-20 per cent in the urban areas and by 40-50 per cent in the rural market.

Pilot Project

According to Chakravarthy, the pilot project, likely to come up in Uran in Navi Mumbai, will take at least six months to start. Given the complex issues of construction and cost of land, the housing projects are likely to come up on the outskirts of cities.

Krithi Ramamrithan, Head, Centre of Urban Science and Engineering at IIT-Bombay, said: “Through this project, we aim to improve the quality of life by providing better living conditions and better resources available without increasing the cost.” He added a prototype was ready but the project’s take-off would depend on how soon the Government makes the funds and space available.

Arun Misra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, who had a meeting with the brains behind the project at IIT-Bombay last week, said the major concern before the housing sector was the unregulated price hike in key construction materials, coupled with a shortage of the workforce and the speed of execution.

According to a study by industry body Assocham, building materials such as steel and cement, and labour constitute almost 75 per cent of the overall construction cost.

Price factor

However, he said this alternative technology would not necessarily bring down the house price for the end user, but it would definitely speed up execution. “If the volumes are large through speeding up of construction, there will be a price advantage eventually,” said Misra.

The ultimate aim was to make this technology available to the general public in partnership with the private sector, he added.

Besides developing low-cost building technology, IITs would also be roped in for undertaking training programmes for municipality engineers and other government officers in this effort.

priyanka.pani@thehindu.co.in

manisha.jha@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 26, 2013)
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