Shortlisted Entries 2020

Prefabricated Houses of “Ghorer Hat” in Munshiganj

Humayra Anan
Bangladesh University of Engineering &Technology | Bangladesh

(Prospects of Innovative Upgradation and Scaling Up through DIY Adaptable Building) 

“Kirtinasha, let there be no more treachery. Will these floods never end? Is there any other destiny for you or for me Kirtinasha?” 

Riverbank Erosion is a recurring natural disaster in Bangladesh. Bounded by two erosion prone rivers, Munshiganj district suffers from unavoidable scourge of riverbank erosion periodically. People here are routinely stripped off of their physiological needs and face constant opposition against their motivation of creating belongingness. Many people remain under the spell of involuntary displacements and severe identity crisis over long periods of time. 

To coexist with this preconditioned crisis, local builders of Munshiganj came up with an indigenous response- prefabricated portable wooden houses which can be dismantled and relocated at times of disaster. These locally-crafted houses are bought and sold as products in local markets known as “Ghorer Hat”. These houses promised progress, a way to preserve identity and because of the demand, local industry of prefabricated houses has bloomed in the last three decades in different parts of Munshiganj. 

But the feeling of place comes with a price. Ironically, those who are in most need of it are often unable to secure it. With increasing price of timber, grassroots people are losing their affordability. On the other hand, the local builders are always trying to increase the profitability. This resulted in continuous lapse of quality causing steady loss of wealthy consumers 

To resolve the conflict of affordability vs quality, to ensure sustainability and to enable local people to achieve sense of security in a context where being displaced is the only truth of life, this research proposes a collaborative response among the architect, the producers (local businessmen), the builders (local masons) & the users (local people). The collaborative process carefully examines the existing situation & proposes a solution which is flexible, adaptable, contextual & easily modified through user reviews. 

The do-it-yourself (DIY) concept has been explored to build up local people’s capacity and belongingness. Focus has been given to propose a system which can increase efficiency of local industry to empower the community. In this ever-changing landscape, the proposed system needed to be capable of growth while preserving the key features. The adaptive aspect of the proposal allows people to be responsive towards any impending threats. As a product of the collaboration, the results have been compiled in a manual which ensures transparency among all stakeholders. The manual is expected to 

perform as a social innovation tool by creating scopes of replication and customization of the adaptable prefabricated building system in similar context. 

The understanding and documenting of the existing system has been the primary strategy, to serve as a resource for future investigations. The proposed system aspires to maintain the cultural identity sought by its local people and ensures scope of variety to address everyone’s need of belongingness and growth. The collaborative response progresses with the collective vision of a dwelling that is of the people, for the people & by the people. The vision is not the end product but the beginning of a joint effort which can continue to thrive despite the sudden ravages of the Kirtinasha river.