Machineless construction strategy based on least physical strain to build cyclone resistant women’s centres in Bangladesh
This project is a Machineless construction strategy based on least physical strain to build cyclone resistant shelters for women in rural Bangladesh. The project’s aim is to empower women in rural Bangladesh and alleviate them from poverty by engaging them in constructing cyclone resistant buildings to be used as women centres throughout rural Bangladesh. Rural Bangladeshi men have mosques and marketplaces to congregate at; however, the women remain in the private spheres of their
Describe the critical need your solution addresses.
The proposed project is at the stage where it is developed; through conversations with local Bangladeshis I met in the southern districts affected by Cyclone Sidr and in consultation with architects, engineers and NGOs, who are experienced in operating in similar climatic and environmental conditions.
The implementation plan over the next three years:
- Phase 1: preparations to/and carry out building of one module using proposed strategy in Bangladesh - includes engaging a local community, site to build, and production of sundried tiles (using minor adjustments to local methods), and construction of one module. The aim is to test effectiveness and ability to communicate and engage with locals through training and building, and perform further structural tests.
- Phase 2: analyse results from testing with structural and environmental experts, refine design strategy and engage with wider shelter humanitarian aid community offering an alternative solution in cyclone shelter building.
- Phase 3: return to Bangladesh with refined strategy based on locals’ response to Phase 1 and results from tests, and transfer knowledge to locals through construction. Develop women’s centre program with locals and specialist NGOs.
The prize money will be spent on construction processes, structural and environmental analyses. The constructions will incur operational costs to engage a small team of experts to Bangladesh to assist and host building workshops for locals, hire translators and produce translated communication materials, and sourcing of raw materials locally to produce tiles. The construction window is restricted to a few months a year due to monsoon, flooding and cyclone seasons, and agricultural time cycles. It is crucial that extensive structural testing is carried out as the proposal needs to be fully cyclone resistant. Architects, engineers and NGOs have offered support in expertise and contacts on the ground when funds are available to build the proposal.
Explain your initiative in more depth and its stage of development.
The strategy is comprehensive in addressing issues of women poverty, shortage of cyclone shelters, and appropriate use of local skills and resources.
Better built shelters can mitigate against increasing natural disasters in Bangladesh which tripled in the last 50 years, and also saw migration rise 25% to cities due to failing agriculture. This strategy will reinvigorate rural areas.
The strategy uses sundried tiles (embodied energy 1/3 of a brick), and passive energy systems to maintain comfortable habitable spaces in the shelters.
The strategy is feasible because it relies on mud craft, labour and based on low tech trimble vaulting, which dates back to 1392 in Catalonia and America.
Structural tests were performed by Cambridge University and architect, Rafael Guastavino. Precedents of these structures in Cuba have withstood hurricanes for decades.
The strategy is modular based, adaptable to different conditions and requirements, and easy to execute after knowledge is transferred.
How does your strategy and approach respond creatively and comprehensively to key issues?
My educational qualifications include MA(HONS) Architectural Design and AADipl, which equal ARB/RIBA Part I and Part II respectively for UK professional qualifications in architecture. My experiences in humanitarian based architecture include a subconscious rehabilitation scheme for landmine survivors along Thai/Burma border, improvements to slums in Bangkok with Architects Sans Frontieres UK. As part of architects in residence, I researched about Christiania’s autonomous self regulating methods. These projects emphasise the need for holistic strategies if any implemented projects is to remain sustainable once external organisation(s) depart.
This project has received support from NGOs, architects and engineers. BRAC (the largest operating NGO in Bangladesh) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have both commended the project for dealing with women poverty and cyclone shelter shortages in Bangladesh. Both organisations have offered support on the ground with local communities and contacts to other shelter experts. Support in the construction industry has come from Foster and Partners, Architectural Association, YOUMEHESHE and Kirkland Moor Fraser architects in form of specialists and experts to perform necessary tests on once a prototype module is built.