This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The social animal that man is requires the safety and security of a shelter that belongs to him. A shelter wherein he can find peace and an opportunity to bring up his children. The self-respect and esteem that goes along with ownership of one’s own home, fosters a sense of well being and belonging. With this inborn craving once satisfied the individual can be expected to put in his best for the society that he belongs to. In no case should an individual or family group be made to feel as outcasts. To be exposed to the vagaries of nature or the arbitrariness of landlords leaves either a sense of despondency or else a growing frustration and inner rage against society. This must be addressed and removed in a satisfactory manner. By this I mean to say that providing a. cheap and dingy hovel in sordid surroundings would aggravate rather then alleviate the problem. A way to provide inexpensive yet well suited; modern and indeed futuristic housing needs to be adopted. 2. PRESENT TRENDS: The present trends in building houses suffer from the following serious defects: 2.1 "Israaf": An Islamic term denoting ostentation. The vast amounts of money wasted on pomp and show is a sin and is strictly forbidden. This leads to fostering a sense of deprivation in the less fortunate sections of society as well as clearly depicts the owners of such ostentation as insensitive at the very least. 2.2 Eco-Disaster: The very method of producing/ manufacturing building material is contributing towards an ecological disaster in the making. Bricks; Cement; Girders and other steel products; Crush; Sand and transportation are all based upon burning of fossil fuels on vast scales. This results in the emission of noxious gasses that greatly damage the fragile ecological system. 2.3 Un-Aesthetic: The very attempt to produce fine homes proves to be a sore on the landscape and is totally out of place. This is all the more true due to mindless aping of the West and location of homes in a completely different environment from the original. 2.4 Un-Scientific: The design and construction of these so called modern houses fail to take into consideration Solar Insolation; Prevailing Winds; Rainfall; Humidity etc. This results in enormous costs of heating and cooling. A waste that can be easily avoided or drastically curtailed. 2.5 Expensive: Apart from ostentation the expenses involved in construction of relatively modest homes is enormous. This is very much beyond the reach of even the middle class. 2.6 Non-Traditional: The adoption of non-progressive and indeed seriously flawed standards leaves us exposed to the charge of superficially following unsound practices. If the adopted course were one wherein advance is made and benefits accrued there would be no harm. However adoption of a course that leads to the afore mentioned deficiencies is ridiculous to say the least. Secondly a growing alienation and divergence from ones own culture and traditions is promoted for no possible gain. 3. POSITIVE STEPS: To take positive steps in the right direction and overcome most if not all of the above mentioned deficiencies is the crying need of the time. All the more so when solutions are available and can be readily adopted. These solutions are in no way exotic or impracticable. Indeed they are based upon time tested and proven methods. Thus the factor of resistance to change is negligible; in fact the remedies are close to our traditions and culture as well as inexpensive. The main thrust of this paper is firstly to address the problem of
constructing homes in the rural areas. First it is necessary to examine the existing trends. 3.1 Traditional: These buildings consist of thick mud walls with thatched roofing. The obvious deficiencies consist of requirements of constant maintenance; insect infestation; leaking roofs and poor insulation. 3.2 Non Traditional: These buildings consist of brick walls and tile roofs. Whereas the problems of maintenance; insects and leaks are readily removed the problem of poor insulation is in fact increased. In the extremes of climate that we are faced with this is a major drawback. To compound matters the less affluent members of society have taken to the use of unburned mud bricks and tile roofs in imitation of the brick house. This alternate provided only freedom from leaking roofs and little else. 4. PROGRESSIVE ALTERNATE; Before going into the details of constructing a progressive alternate it is essential to take into consideration those factors that are non material. These factors can also be used to great effect in the prevailing trends. The main factor is site orientation. 4.1 Site Orientation: The first factor for planning a house is the location and orientation. Whereas location is often predetermined due to availability; inherent location defects can be overcome by means of correct orientation. The direction of window and door openings and their grouping is termed as the structures orientation. This is affected by the following major factors. 4.1.a. Sun: This is the most important determining factor to make structure energy efficient. A factor of increasing importance due to rising energy costs and global warming. Solar angles vary from summer to winter and have to be taken into consideration depending upon site location where heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter is to be avoided 4.1.b Wind: Prevailing winds of an area when catered for will provide ventilation in summer and prevent heat loss in winter. 4.1.c Vegetation: Vegetation provides a host of uses from aesthetic to erosion/ dust noise control and insulation. This factor can also be actively used for income supplementation and/ or nutrition enhancement. 4.2. Energy Conservation: As mentioned previously this factor is of increasing importance and has become almost crucial. This aspect is addressed by the following; 4.2.a Surface Area: Buildings with large surface areas will experience greater heat gain/ loss when least required. A circular configuration encloses the most space with the least wall area. This results in compact structures without compromising space availability. 4.2.b Roof Loads: Heavy roof loads for insulation require unconventional structural systems. The best of such systems is the Geodesic Dome. This design distributes the load evenly to all walls. 4.2.c. Shuttering: An aspect that has fallen into disuse for no apparent reason. The use of slatted wooden shutters is of enormous benefit. The incorporation of directional skylights or windows facing south reflects sunlight into the house in winters but is screened out in summer with the change in the suns angle. The energy loss at nighttime is greatly reduced by using the insulated shutter in winters. 4.3 Thermal Characteristics: The inherent heat loss/ gain features of a structure are termed as its thermal characteristics.
4.3.a. Thermal Mass: This affects the heat capacity, which is the amount of energy required to change the temperature by 1 degree. A building with a large thermal mass within the insulation heats and cools at a low and slow rate. Whereas the opposite takes place at small thermal mass. Where temperature inside the building is more of question of survival rather then comfort this factor takes on increased importance. Passive solar use greatly diminishes requirements of external energy sources in winters. 5. EARTH SHELTER: The interaction between roof; walls and floor is to a greater degree when earth shelter is used. 5.1. Roof: The geodesic dome provides the least roof surface area of any structure. This combined with a thick earth berm around the walls leads to a high thermal mass. This results in moderate and stable heat gain/ loss. Shading by trees is much easier. If new planting is required the growing period can be covered by using green netting on bamboo poles which is easier and uses less material then required for square or rectangular roofs, secondly use of fruit or vegetable vines is also easier. 5.2. Walls: The door and window openings not only affect the strength of the building but also the net heat gain/ loss. Properly designed south facing openings, directly exposed to the sun in winters and shaded in summers should be used. These will provide a positive heating affect in winter and minimize gain in summer. Surrounding vegetation will decrease heat gain and consequent reflection/ conduction from the immediate vicinity. 5.3. Floors: The interior temperature begins to rise due to warm/ hot incoming air or conduction in summer. An uninsulated floor responds by drawing heat out of the building at a greater rate in an attempt to maintain a steady temperature. Studies show that a three-fold increase in heat loss occurs in summer to aid in stabilizing the interior temperature to comfortable levels. A vapor barrier of existing roofing material under a relatively thin compacted floor will not act as a major impediment to this process. 5.4. Basements: With additional increase in expense a sizable below grade, well type room can be added to the structure at any time without affecting the existing building. This room will have even more desirable thermal characteristics in extremely severe climates. In this case precast concrete planks are used as roofing material/ floor of the above grade room. Since these possess poor insulation especially where waterproofing is not required, the heat loss characteristics are not affected. Indeed these can be positively aided by provision of exhaust/ covering with rugs. 5.5. Berming: Provision of a sloping earth berm around the structure will provide even greater insulation and lead to greater thermal mass. Secondly improved drainage characteristics can be readily incorporated. Thirdly utility rooms such as kitchen and bath/ washrooms can be conveniently built into these berms. Fourthly a greater degree of stability is ensured. 5.6. Internal Heat Gain: Depending upon the size and life style of the occupants there is a net heat gain inside the structure. This is estimated at 12 to 15 KwHrs per day in winter and 7 to 9 KwHrs in summers for a small household (5 to 7 individuals). A good cross ventilation plan and exhaust of kitchen heat to the outside will curtail this heat in summer. Retention of kitchen heat in winter and use of shuttering will add to comfort in winter. 5.7. Well Designed Openings: Recessed and shaded openings will greatly add to prevention of heat gain/ loss when required. These will automatically aid in preventing entry of insects as well as dust into the interior of the house. Properly fabricated windows can provide net heat gain in winters. 3.7 Ceramic Adobe Housing: 3.7.1 General: The concept of adobe housing is ancient and is still being used in many under-
developed/ developing Countries. Inexpensive material and quick building have always been the hallmarks of such types of building. Insecurity of tenancy adds to the requirement of building an inexpensive and semi-permanent home. Crude and primitive, they nonetheless provide some features of climatic adaptation that are worth considering. • Advantages: • Earthen walls gain and lose heat slowly. • Material readily available, usually free of cost. • Quick drying/ fast building. • Disadvantages: • Roofing gains and loses heat rapidly. • Needs constant maintenance. • Leaking roofs. 3.7.2 Ceramic Adobe: As opposed to simple adobe construction, the concept of Ceramic Adobe Housing is relatively new. By using the "Gelaftan" technique, Persian words signifying Clay Firing, (Gel = Clay; Taftan = Firing). Nader Khalili of Iran has used this concept. He developed the idea from observing kilns for baking ceramics; pottery and tiles as well as the Middle Eastern Ovens (Tandoors) for baking of bread (Nan/ Roti). Combining all of the above while using the concepts of the dome, arch and vault, Khalili developed a low-cost; virtually non-destructible; earthquake proof; waterproof; insect proof and highly hygienic house. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as NASA has accepted the concept for use in Outer Space. To put the concept in simple terms a domed structure of clay is constructed. Openings for doors and windows are made and then temporarily sealed. The building is filled with inexpensive fuel material and fired. Temperature is allowed to rise till 1600° F for 48 hours. This process slowly bakes the walls; floor and roof to an almost indestructible level and the house is ready for habitation. To tabulate the advantages: • Advantages: • Inexpensive and readily available materials (Clay and brushwood). • Quick to build. • Virtually indestructible. • Fire proof. • Insect proof. • Earthquake proof. • Waterproof. • Highly hygienic. • Low cost. • Super Insulation. 3.7.3 Earth Sheltered; Ceramic Adobe; Passive Solar Housing; ESCAPS House (Escape House): Escape into the 21st Century by using a combination of three techniques. This combination is virtually unbeatable especially in the extreme climatic conditions that prevail in Pakistan. The extremely low cost of Rs. 100.00 to Rs. 150.00 per square foot for a 400 square foot to 827 square foot house (Estimated Costs) as compared to the type and long lasting qualities of construction are truly amazing. Usual concepts of low cost houses are inefficient and depressing. This concept utilizes the extremely pleasing design of a Geodesic Dome and incorporates the advantages of Earth Sheltered and Passive Solar Techniques.
3.7.4 Weather/ Climate Orientation: In cold climates or hot areas the house is built facing the South for maximum solar gain in winters and minimum in summers. Prevailing cold and hot winds are also taken into account. 3.7.5 Location: This type of housing is highly adaptable in land use. However some disadvantages do crop up. • Disadvantages: • Elongated geometry. • Larger areas required for berms and drainage. 3.7.6 Summary: Detached Units require from a minimum of 0.01 acres to 0.16 acres lot sizes. Four Unit Clusters require 0.25 acres while double Row Attached Units require as little as 0.018 acre lot sizes. This is by far the lowest of any type of construction while yet leaving a range from as low as 50 square feet per individual for an 8-member family. At present our less fortunate brethren are huddled together at intensities of 15 to 25 square feet per individual and are cramped together in single rooms where cooking also takes place in rainy weather. The concept of attached bathrooms/ toilets is all together missing. Privacy is non-existent and this and the other factors have significant adverse impacts upon the psyches of the coming generations. The Escape House thus provides the following additional advantages: • Advantages: • More Space at low cost. • More aesthetic surroundings for children. • More Privacy. • Space Age design acts as stimulus to imagination. • More Privacy. • Indoor Toilets provide hygienic surroundings • Stimulates Pride of possession. • Raises self-esteem. • Encourages Nation Building. • Fosters Cohesiveness in Society. • Removes Apathy. 4. CONCLUSION: The Khidmat Foundation has experimented with uncontrolled firing for tabletop models as well as a 5’x5’x7’ arch roof structure to be used as a dedicated Mushroom Growing Structure. The experiments are eminently successful and have encouraged the Foundation to go for full scale final R&D.