Experience sharing workshop: Building sense towards climate responsive affordable housing

Date: March 7, 2016

Venue: Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

The Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme organised a one day Experience sharing workshop: Building sense towards climate responsive affordable housing at Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on March 7, 2016. This was a gathering of selected 70 odd professionals from housing sector of India. The objective is to share innovative practices in area of affordable housing and reflect on scope of innovation in the emerging affordable housing policies.


The programme was started with Anumita RoyChowdhury and Avikal Somvanshi giving thematic overview of CSE’s assessment of housing crisis in the country and its environment connection. CSE noted that without inclusive planning cities cannot improve resource efficiency and quality of life of all. Also green building norms have failed to improve comfort and quality of life of the poor.  

The overview was followed by the session on technological innovation in affordable housing construction.  Tanmay Tathagat, executive director, EDS shared his technical assessment of energy conservation potential in construction and operation of housing unit with special focus on lower income and middle income session of the society.  Girija Prasad Swain, chief operating officer, WorldHauz a Bengaluru based technology innovation firm shared new affordable housing material and technology developed by them for faster and thermally insulated housing units. Swain also shared case-studies from across India where their technology has been put to use.?

The next session was dedicated to innovation in up gradation of existing bastis or informal settlements of urban poor. Prassana Desai, principal architect, PDS a Pune based architectural firm shared his work with bastis of Pune under the JNNURM’s Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme.  Rahul Srivastava and Matias Echanove, founders, Institute of Urbanology (IOU), Mumbai shared their experience of working in with locals of Dharavi and Shivaji Nagar colonies in Mumbai to improve the designs of the self-constructed houses. IOU also provides pro bono design services to local contractors and households from these neighbourhoods. Swati Janu, senior designer, mHS City Lab, New Delhi shared their work with the homeless of Delhi. The lab has designed potable tents which have been distributed among 100 homeless families across the city. The lab is also developing web-based tutorials to building capacity among local contractors to provide better constructed houses.     

The last session was to discuss policies and politics of the affordable housing in India. Amitabh Kundu, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has chaired or been member of multiple government committees on urban housing shared his assessment of past and current housing schemes of union government. He noted that main problem with all the policies have been that they instead of delivering housing to economically weaker section where almost all of housing shortage exists ends up subsidising housing of middle and high income group. S.K. Mahajan, superintendent engineer, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, Delhi government also gave insight into status of implementation official scheme to address housing crisis in the capital city.


After day long discussion and experience sharing it was concluded that there is a need to leverage the emerging policies to address the challenges in the sector. Build community initiatives to shape homes and neighbourhoods. Integrate needs of all income classes in urban planning:

  • Address land availability and tenurial security

  • Make formal finance system more inclusive and affordable

  • organize professional support for building design, quality construction; Build appropriate local skills

  • Build awareness about low cost design and material

  • Ensure private investment works for the poor and delivers on adequate and appropriate housing stock

  • Help create appropriate building typologies; develop rental housing for the poor

  • Need public engagement to promote community based planning for housing, local services and resources management

New Vaastu Teaser screening:

The team also screened a teaser of its upcoming YouTube series “New Vaastu” with Architect Ashok B Lall. The series is serves as a “Do it yourself” manual where Lall demystifies building science for lay persons and gives tips on how to improve comfort and sustainability of one’s home cost effectively.  Full series will be rolled out in April in a weekly format.

For registration and details contact: 

Avikal Somvanshi
Programme Officer,
Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme,
Centre for Science and Environment,
New Delhi, India
Tel: +91-11-29955124, 29956110, 40616000 (Ext-222) 
Fax: +91-11-29955879
Email: avikal@cseindia.org