Shortlisted Entries 2020

Livelihood Based Housing Design

Harin Naik
Faculty of Architecture, SCET | Surat

A Living Tradition is defined as a practical discipline centred in a long-standing cultural heritage. It is a traditional practice, typically passed through generations. Craft, the physical manifestation of design, is an indispensable part of architecture, owing to its significant presence in architectural history. The crafts of India are rich and diverse in culture and religion. The handicraft markets are growing day by day but hit by low production, as craftsperson are at the crossroads, beset with poverty and illness. The need is to create an infrastructure to support healthy living, production and sales. 

Asharikandi known as the ‘Terracotta craft village’, is one such place, located on the banks of river Gadadhar about 14km from Dhubri in the state of Assam. The artists migrated before Independence from Pabna district, West Bengal, present day Bangladesh. They settled on the banks of the river to cater to the earthenware needs of the Zamindar families of the surrounding areas. The place came to be known as Asharikandi (Ashar- 3rd month of Assamese calendar and Kandi- shedding of tears ) as during the month of Ashar heavy rainfall causes destruction of the earthenware and the potters aren’t able to dry their products, making them shed tears out of misery caused by the havoc. When they migrated they were 18 families and as time passed, they became a large community of 160 families. As the community grew, the hazards of floods and their frequency, severity increased due to heavy rains and overflowing river, became worst in the year 2019. 

The proposal for the craft village revolves around the idea of regenerating and reviving the practices and the way of life of the potters. The proposed master plan organically extends the existing village, developed with the similar characteristics, aims to safeguard the community from future disasters like storms, floods etc. through naturally developed water drainage channels and pokhars. The high plinth of the proposed unit further protects the living areas, essentials and lives of the artists. 

New housing units follow similar planning parameters as the vernacular units, but under a single roof giving it a holistic identity. Proper workspace and storage areas are designed to keep the terracotta art safe during monsoons, eliminating the loss of products and material. Activities spill out on the streets, making the villagers an extended family. The design aims to give the community a greater role in building their own home, with multiple planning options, giving rise to unique and diverse built forms. Settlements are capable of fulfilling the needs of the community, making them self sustainable. 

The proposal uplifts the lifestyle of the community by giving them better living and working spaces, and keeps the years’ old craft tradition thriving in the modern times as well. It gives an opportunity for the craftsperson and the village fabric to grow and develop.