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Work

COSTFORD is a voluntary organization, which provides technological assistance for rural development. It was founded in 1984 by Dr. D. R. Chandradutt, Dr. K.N. Raj an economist and the then Chairman of the Center for Developmental Studies, Mr. Achutha Menon, the former Chief Minister of Kerala. The idea of COSTFORD took root when Mr. Achutha Menon showed interest in the alternative design philosophy and building materials and techniques promoted by Mr. Laurie Baker.

COSTFORD was registered as a non-profit voluntary organization in 1984 and started its construction activities in 1986. The head office of COSTFORD is situated in Thrissur. It operates form another 13 sub centers, 12 all over Kerala and 1 in Gurgaon. COSTFORD works on government as well as private construction work. They have carried out large rural development projects of Central and State Government agencies. Collectively COSTFORD has been able to realise about 20,000 buildings in Kerala.

COSTFORD attempts to use some of the construction materials such as lime, bamboo, mud and exposed bricks and architectural elements such as the rat-trap bond, filler slab (void former) roofing used often by Laurie Baker in his work in Kerala. For their core activities, COSTFORD is supported by The Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India; the department of Rural Development Govt. of India; the department of local Self Government, Govt. of Kerala and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO).

Baker has served as the Chairman of COSTFORD and played an active part in the early years of COSTFORD. However, Laurie Baker worked by himself, directly with his masons, carpenters and workmen and never started a conventional personal architectural firm (with architects, draftsmen, etc) of his own.

 

For more information and to contact COSTFORD visit: http://www.costford.com

 

 

Baker had no interest in awards and fame. Nevertheless his work was recognised by numerous national and international organisations and institutions.

Citizenship of India was the only award he actively pursued in his life.

 



1938: Associate of the Royal Institute of Architects (ARIBA)

1970: Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects

1981: D.Litt conferred by the Royal University of Netherlands for outstanding work in the Third World

1983: Order of the British Empire, MBE

1987: Received the first Indian National Habitat Award

1988: Received Indian Citizenship

1989: Indian Institute of Architects Outstanding Architect of the Year

1990: Received the Padma Sri

1990: Great Master Architect of the Year

1992: UNO Habitat Award & UN Roll of Honour

1993: International Union of Architects (IUA) Award

1993: Sir Robert Matthew Prize for Improvement of Human Settlements

1994: People of the Year Award

1995: Awarded Doctorate from the University of Central England

1998: Awarded Doctorate from Sri Venkateshwara University

2001: Coinpar MR Kurup Endowment Award

2003: Basheer Puraskaram

2003: D.Litt from the Kerala University

2005: Kerala Government Certificate of Appreciation

2006: L-Ramp Award of Excellence

2006: Nominated from the Pritzker Award (considered the Nobel Prize in Architecture)



Organisational Roles:

Served as the Chairman, HUDCO

Member of the governing body of NID (National Institute of Design), Ahmedabad

Consultant to UPDESCO (Uttar Pradesh Development Systems Corporation)

Member of the Advisory Board for the National Building Research Institute

Only non-government member of the Working Group of the Union Government Planning Commission

Served in an advisory capacity to the Kerala, Karnatak and Andhra Pradesh governments

Served as Chairman of COSTFORD ( Centre of Science & Technology for Rural Development)

Fellow of the Centre for Development Studies


Notable Projects:

International Leprosy Mission

Welthy Fisher's Literacy Village, Lucknow

Andhra Pradesh Quaker Cyclone Project

Latur Earthquake Proof Housing Project

Tsunami-proof Housing Project


Has designed and built a dance village, computer institutes, fishermen’s huts, chapels and churches, factories, schools, film studios, orphanages, tourist resorts, residences, technical institutes, earthquake and tsunami resistant houses, leprosy homes, a Literacy Village, hostels, slum dwellings improvement, an ornithology centre, government buildings, a blind children’s international school and a museum.

For a more detailed (though not complete) list of his work go here

 

When I came to India in the 1940s as the Chief Architect for the Mission to Lepers my job was mainly to convert or replace old dreaded asylums with proper modern hospitals and to create the necessary rehabilitation and occupation centres as leprosy was no longer an untreatable disease. But there was no precedent for this new approach of treatment. Medical experts were few and far between and inevitably had varying and even conflicting ideas about how to go about things resulting in a whole new set of problems. Who was to guide me in my work? To whom should I turn to for instructions? Who actually were my clients? Was it the Mission which paid my salary? Or were they the doctors and dedicated workers who worked selflessly for the relief of the suffering of those caught up by this most dreaded of diseases? Or were they the patients themselves?

 

It was the Mission that paid salary that also decided how much money was to be used for each project. The doctors had a fair idea of what they required for their work. But finally it were the patients themselves who would actually live in my buildings, and in them regain not only their health but their hope and self-respect, and finally gain a new entry into life. What better clients could one hope for?

 

Soon I was swamped by a new set of problems. The buildings I was sent to inspect, their construction techniques and materials used, were nothing like the buildings I had been taught about and designed at the School of Architecture. I was expected to deal with mud walls and huge cracks. I was confronted with materials I had never heard of, such as laterite. People seemed to think that even cow-dung was an important building material! I was expected to know how to deal with termites and even bed hugs. I was warned that in a short time the monsoon would come. The word was spoken with such awe and fear as though a monsoon were a ferocious, wild beast ready to pounce on me without warning. And, true enough, it was like a ferocious, wild beast and it did pounce on me with a vengeance!

 

In fact, during those first few months I felt increasingly ignorant and helpless. I felt less knowledgeable than the stupidest village idiot for he seemed to know what a termite and a monsoon and black cotton soil were. I had brought with me my text books, reference hooks and construction manuals, but a bundle of comic strips would have been as helpful. What should I do? Go back home where I belonged? The cry of 'Quit India' was louder and stronger now than ever before—would it not be better to quit?

 

But it was already too late to quit. I might be snowed under with all these impossible and ridiculous problems (were they really the concern of a proper qualified Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects?), but I was increasingly fascinated by the skills of ordinary, poor, village people working with the most unpromising and crude materials with apparently almost no recognizable tools to make useful everyday buildings and articles. I spent most of my time watching these people build beautiful houses for themselves with mud and bamboo and dried grass and the poorest quality of timber I had ever seen. I saw round conical houses, up to six metres in diameter, built with pieces of timber no longer than a metre-and-a-half. Furthermore, these houses were built in areas that faced devastating cyclones every year and very often this type of indigenous architecture had a better chance of survival than the more 'proper' type of structure of bricks, mortar and reinforced concrete slabs. I had, up till then, heard of 'stabilized earth', but all over the country I saw mud houses which were treated with a wide variety of materials: from rice husks, bamboo strips and palm fibres for preventing cracks, and calcium (lime) water to pigs' urine for coping with other problems related to the use of mud.

 

The incredible and fascinating part about all this new education I was having was that these strange systems were effective, and slowly I realised that many of the answers to my problems, which I thought I could never solve, lay before me and all round me wherever I went. I suppose it took many years before I really understood and wholeheartedly believed that wherever I went I saw, in the local indigenous style of architecture, the results of thousands of years of research on how to use only immediately-available, local materials to make structurally stable buildings that could cope with the local climatic conditions, with the local geography and topography, with all the hazards of nature (whether mineral, vegetable, insect, bird or animal), with the possible hostility of neighbours, and that could accommodate all the requirements of local religious, social and cultural patterns of living. This was an astounding, wonderful and incredible achievement which no modern, twentieth century architect, or people I know of, has ever made.

 

Columbus is reputed to have discovered America, but a large number of people had been already living there without the publicity of his discovery for a very long time. Similarly, when I made my own little personal discoveries, I realized that I had merely chanced to find an extensive set of building systems which were in no way 'discoveries' to more than five hundred million people! I wanted to make use of this new knowledge in my own work. Perhaps it was as well that my employers brushed it all aside as a romantic notion for I realized I was merely a witness to these apparently endless indigenous skills and was in no way capable of implementing them so early after my 'discoveries'.

 

Rather reluctantly I had to return to my drawing board and design 'proper' buildings. I can't say that the result of my latest education was completely wasted. I learnt more about the more acceptable local materials, with new (to me) ways of using burnt brick, stone, tiles and timber. I also used new kinds of mortar and plaster and, as much as possible, tried to design my buildings in such a way that they would not be offensive or unacceptable to my real clients, the users of the buildings, and so that they would fit in with the local styles and not be an offence to the eyes of the people with whom I had chosen to live with. I think this was probably the second biggest step towards what (if there really is such a thing) is described as a 'Laurie Baker Architecture'.

 

In out-of-the-way districts, among the scattered and neglected population, the buildings needed were small, but whatever their size they were essential necessities—, more essential and necessary than even those in the densely-populated cities where plenty of alternative facilities are available. Furthermore, those living in these remote rural areas traded by the barter system rather than by buying and selling with money. This meant that it was extremely difficult to find money to pay for the building material, and so it was of the utmost importance to design and make buildings that were strong and durable, and as inexpensive as possible. For this and other similar reasons I became then, cost-conscious and spent a lot of time trying to find ways of reducing building costs in general— whether I was using local indigenous methods or building with the 'normal' twentieth century materials and techniques. Seeing millions of people living a hand-to-mouth existence made me come to abhor all forms of extravagance and waste.

 

This brings us to the two important characteristics of a so-called Baker Architecture— that 'small' is not only 'beautiful' but is often essential and even more important than `large'; and that if we architects are even to start coping effectively with the real building problems and the housing needs of the world, we must learn how to build as inexpensively as possible.

 

And so my interest and work spread. The medical world was cautiously interested and the world of formal education also followed suit. There were village schools and colleges and even urban colleges that wanted libraries, auditoria, etc. Designing for these various institutions became my bread-and-butter. For the dessert I could never resist the invitation to design religious buildings. So, often, there were ashrams, houses of prayer and churches on my drawing board— but always on the condition that there must be no ostentation or 'facade-ism'. I am often puzzled by the dichotomy in my nature—I claim to believe in democracy but I can find myself wanting to be an architectural dictator! I think I am more than normally tolerant about other people’s religious beliefs and practices, and yet I can find myself decrying the requests of a religious group for something which I feel is wrong or inconsistent with their beliefs. I claim that the client's needs and desires should come first and that he or she requires a 'client-based' building, not a 'Baker' building— but when expressions of his religious beliefs offend me I find myself unable to design for him or her.


If the above statement sounds a bit harsh perhaps a bit of background on my Quaker religious beliefs might help explain why I feel this way. Very briefly, the Quaker ideal is that there is a form of direct unity with the Creator, that Man experiences this at any time, in any place and under any circumstances. Special 'religious' surroundings and appurtenances are not essential, though many people find them a help. But, however much we hoodwink our fellowmen, it is impossible to be deceitful or put up a false front to the Creator. So all efforts to 'put on a big show' or indulge in deceit to make ourselves look greater than we are, seems to be quite pointless. A house has to be designed as a home for a particular group of people to live together as a family in their own inimitable style and if this planning and designing for them is done well it is highly unlikely that the outside of the building will be ostentatious or showy. It is even more so with religious buildings where people usually gather together for purposes of worship and prayer, with their own particular form of ritual or liturgy. The architect will do his utmost to provide the 'right' space in which these acts of worship can be made. As this mainly concerns our search for union with the Eternal it seems particularly 'not right' to indulge in a pretentious façade with these buildings. This anti-façade-ism has definitely been a very noticeable and is a deliberate characteristic of Laurie Baker's architecture, no matter what type of building is being designed.

 

It was towards the end of our stay in Pithoragarh in the Himalayas, while these interesting, special buildings were being built, that the government itself started mild enquiries, especially concerning the possibilities of cost-reduction in building. Several upright senior government secretaries were showing genuine concern at architectural practices which were apparently not actually essential or even desirable, but which they were assured as necessary by public work civil engineers . At first I was only unofficially asked whether there were in fact any possible ways of reducing costs for government buildings done by Government agencies.

 

My unpopularity among fellow professionals probably started at this time. I remember being shown drawings of a monumental façade to the proposed State Archival Buildings. The entrance portico looked very much like St. Paul's Cathedral West Facade with a huge flight of steps and rows of ornate columns. The public would not use this building and those who were to work in it would number less than forty. I asked for the reason for the great entrance portico the only answer I received was that it was because Mr Nehru himself would declare the building open! Needless to say I enjoyed these skirmishes with the government personnel and eventually became an official adviser!

 

For a number of reasons we pulled up our roots from our Himalayan home and moved south to the State of Kerala with its extremely beautiful local indigenous bamboo style of architecture. Again, at first, we chose a remoter rural area to live and work in, and again, we ourselves built our own home and hospital in the local style with local materials. We settled down to live in a completely different setting from that of north India. I found the relationships of Kerala vs. India very comparable to that of Britain vs. the rest of Europe. The people were 'insular' and proud, and their ways were very different (and in their own eyes superior) to those of others. Many more people were educated and literate, and this was especially true among the women folk. This had both advantages and disadvantages. For example, there were many attractive ways of using local building materials. The coconut palm leaf was split and the fronts plaited together to form a thatch which was pleasing to the eye and of extremely good insulation value. The plaiting work had always been done by the older girls in their spare time, but now almost all girls went to school and more and more of them to college and there was neither the time nor the inclination to make these stock of thatched leaves ready for the annual re-thatching. And so, for similar reasons, there was a strong move everywhere to abandon 'old-fashioned ways' and go in for 'modern' buildings using plenty of cement an( reinforced concrete.

 

Unlike in the Himalayas I had little time to help with my wife's hospital work as I became quite involved in local building activities. Many people and institutions were showing great interest in reducing costs of building. It all started when all the Bishops had agreed to work together at the Kerala Bishops' conference for the good of the common poor man. They had. with great fanfare, agreed that each parish in the state should try and put up at least one inexpensive, small house and give it to the poorest family in that parish, regardless of caste or creed. But after three years only two or three houses had been built. The Archbishop Mar Gregorios of Trivandrum called for a 'post-mortem' seminar to find out the reason for this failure. The explanation given by all was simple enough—: there was no longer any such thing as an 'inexpensive building'! I begged to disagree and offered to demonstrate, rather than to talk about ways of building inexpensive houses and spent the following two weeks putting up a small house of about forty square metres and costing, by request, less than Rs 3,000 (about US $400 at the time). The participants of the conference came to see the result of this demonstration and to our amazement declared the house to be 'too good' for 'the poor'. So the Archbishop asked for a second house to be put up for half the cost!

 

From this beginning there followed many small houses, schools, clinics, hospitals and churches and then the government moved in to examine what was going on. The Chief Minister of the state Sri Achutha Menon became a convert and I built the State Institute of Languages, at his request, for a small sum of money which the Works and Housing Department had declared was impossible. But my work for government and semi-government institutions continued, notably with a fairly large and prestigious complex known as the Centre for Development Studies, staffed and run by world-known economists of repute. The Chief Minister launched the scheme by challenging them to demonstrate and prove their economic theories by the way in which they built and ran their institution.

 

At this time, my greatest problems came from the vested interests of most categories of people concerned with the building industry. Most of them were paid on a percentage basis of the total or partial cost of a building. Clearly they did not wish to reduce costs! The craftsmen also were similarly paid and they too did not want any changes. It became increasingly tiresome when people who asked me to design a building for them for a certain sum of money, would return to say that the builders said it could not be done even for double the figure I had given. There was only one thing to do and that was to get together a band of masons and carpenters who would do what was asked of them and who would learn new techniques and un-learn old, wasteful ones. It was rewarding for my clients, for me and for the workmen. For example, some of them became excellent brick-workers who got enormous satisfaction from producing beautiful brickwork. Much of what has come to be described as Baker Architecture I owe to these craftsmen. Because of them it became easy for me to construct almost any type of building, and these ranged from the smallest houses to a large cathedral seating three thousand people. I was particularly pleased that three housing groups were taking advantage of these ideas. A whole fishing village for example, was built after many of its old huts had been washed away by the sea in a gale. Several institutions also built houses for their poor at comparatively very little cost. Then the so-called 'upper strata' of society came forward with interest which proved to be genuine, when quite a lot of them asked me to build their houses for them using these simple, cost-reducing techniques.

 

Low-cost housing techniques were the most rewarding for the group of people who came under the label of the 'lower middle class'. They feel they have certain standards of living to keep up, matters relating to dress and to the education and marriage of their children, but their salaries leave them very little to save for house-building—: an activity which they had always considered well beyond their reach. Now they could build. They were quick to understand the principles involved in cost-reduction. They were quick to understand the real priorities of building a home. They had and expressed their faith in the 'expert', and would sometimes actually help where they felt they could.

 

Again the government showed further interest and called for a report on the methods of cost-reduction. There was strong opposition to the idea of requesting a private individual with 'funny' ideas to present an official report to the government. Three outside government experts joined me and the report was presented, and, accepted, after the Chief Minister had organized a seminar in which all the suggestions and recommendations in the report were thrashed out and either agreed upon as possible and feasible, or, if impossible, rejected. Finally everything in the report was accepted, but over the years very little of it has been implemented.

 

Industrialists are often hard realists and the principles of cost-reduction have been taken up by some of them in different parts of the country. It seems a far cry from small low-cost houses to big foundries and factories, but that is what has happened. The wheel seems to have turned a full circle because it is these industrialists who are now employing these cost cutting techniques with their huge factory buildings.

 

Lastly, I have found, consistently, throughout my working life, that the whole business of planning and designing is intensely absorbing and fun! Always living close to nature I learnt many lessons from the design of God's creations. Very rarely do we find the square or the rectangle but very often the circle is used. The straight line is rare, but the graceful curve is frequently seen. An interesting scientific observation is that the length of the wall enclosing a given area is shorter if the shape is circular and longer if the shape around the same area is a square or a rectangle. This is an important factor in cost-reducing exercises! Furthermore, I have found the answer to many spatial and planning problems by using the circle and the curve instead of the square and the straight line—and building becomes much more fun with the circle!

Distinctive architectural styles were not designed by some famous ancient architect who decreed that a certain style will be used in Japan and a certain other style will be used in Peru and yet another style in Punjab. The upturned, horned roofs of buildings as found in Kerala, China and Japan arc the direct result of the people of those places making use of the most common, plentiful, useful material: bamboo— to house and protect them from natural enemies such as sun, rain, hurricanes and wind. A completely different set of styles has evolved in hot, dry, treeless, desert areas, as in parts of Egypt, Iran and India; in almost every district in the world these natural styles have grown to the patterns that could be seen in the first half of this century.

Our 'backward' ancestors had learned how to live with and cope with the problems of climate. They had teamed that a pitched or a sloping roof lessened the effects of all these hazards. They knew the movements of air currents and placed their wall openings almost at ground level. They knew that hot air rises and allowed it to travel upwards from the low eaves to the openings at the ends of the high ridge. They understood and applied principles of insulation; their roofing materials formed hollow cellular protective layers and their storage spaces provided insulation from the midday sun. They had understood that wall surfaces can absorb and retain just as much heat as a roof surface, so they kept these walls as small in area as possible and never left them unprotected. They knew that eye-strain from working out in the sun could be alleviated by rest in an area where glare was eliminated and they used smooth, hard, light-coloured surfaces sparingly and left the natural materials— wood, laterite, brick, stone— exposed. Their practical knowledge of the properties of these differing building materials was amazing. They knew, for instance, how to design their timber and wood work to avoid warping, twisting and cracking.

Village planning and site utilization were equally functional and delightfully simple. Usually there were rows (terraces) of houses all joined together with common dividing partition walls; sometimes when anywhere from three to ten or twelve brothers lived in such a row of houses, the front veranda was common to all. These multi-housed rows of dwellings were usually under one big long common roof. The row followed the contours wherever possible, and as a consequence was sometimes curved. The row of houses was usually sited to overlook the terraced fields below, to catch the sunshine, and to get protection from rain, snow and cold winds from the forest or steep hillside behind. The foundations were almost invariably built on stone straight off solid rock —a foundation of Mother Earth herself. Very rarely did the people use earth that could be terraced or cultivated, but they chose their building sites along rocks, ridges or spurs of the mountains where cultivation would be impossible. Their foundation problems were therefore nil, and the rock they quarried for building the foundation and basement walls was split or blasted out from the same bed rock on which they would build. I never saw any rubble being carried more than a hundred yards and, of course, it was all carried on someone's head.

The superstructure walls were also built of the same quarried-on-the spot stone. Sometimes it was big and square and chunky, in other places it was more like thick slate in large sheets or slabs only a few inches thick. And of course it was all built in mud mortar. The walls were heaped on the inside with mud, or mud and cow-dung, or lime mortar or plaster. Sometimes the outside-Was left as it was, or, sometimes, it too was treated with some sort of lime plaster. Doors and windows were often of delightfully shaped and simply carved woodwork using chir-pine or deodar, or occasionally some other local country wood such as tuni. But this timber was always found within a few hundred yards, or at most a mile or two, of the house being constructed.

The wood for the roofs was extravagantly lavish in size. Whole tree trunks were used for the ridge-pole and purlins and trusses. Again, all these roofing materials were close at hand. Occasionally a wealthier person would send a few miles for a thinner quality of slate which could be shaped and squared, but this was their form of showing off and was not a necessity and fortunately not often indulged in. This whole roof construction over the wall construction, was completely adequate to cope with the climatic extremes of heat and dryness in summer, with the violent rain storms, and with the (heavy snow in the winter.

I personally think it is stupid and two-faced to suggest that a rural family needs less and inferior accommodation than an urban family. As far as codes and regulations are concerned I believe these are created to help enforce structural stability and to remove the hazards which can be caused by fire, bad sanitation, cyclones, earthquakes, heavy rain and floods and soon. Either your building is a fire hazard or it is not whether you are rural or urban. Health hazards from pollution or bad sanitation, etc are hazards wherever they are.

 

Accomodation, that is living spaces, are also, I believe, the same. For example the kitchen must have light and air, the fire place should be energy efficient and not waste fuel or create smoke which can blow all through the house. A rural family, mother, father, one or two children, may be a grandparent and so on all need different spaces in which to sleep. These may not be three or four rooms, but partitions or divisions can create privacy even in one single room. Construction techniques and materials need to be good, energy saving, strong, water proof and so on. In all these varying matters of planning and design I see no difference between urban or rural needs. People sometimes say, "But you can't use mud walls in a city; there is no mud available anyway." They apparently think that bricks, stone and concrete are found or manufactured in cities.

 

However, there are considerable differences between the living styles and patterns and the occupations of families in towns and villages. Obviously, it is easier, indeed often necessary, to keep birds and animals when living in rural areas while it is not possible to keep them in towns.

In towns, most employed people got out to work in shops, offices, markets, factories, etc. So they rarely need space in their homes for occupations; whereas in villages and rural areas there are far more home industries: —basket and net making, food drying and preparation for both home consumption and for sale. There are dozens of space taking occupations, bee keeping for honey, mulberries and worms for silk rearing, spinning, dying and weaving for fabrics and so on and all these occupations are very often "cottage industries". So, to me, the very big and obvious difference between urban and rural housing is that, the rural house calls for  far more space and amenities than the urban house....

 

When I have to plan for rural people, I find I have to balance out what I can do while providing space for family living AND for cattle, birds and occupations but only having the same limited amount of money as I have for an urban family. Fortunately, a lot of this provision for work and animals usually only requires a good roof, while walls may not be necessary, and not so much costly finish required for floors. So I find that while planning the rural cottage of 250 square feet, I have to try and get my living quarters into 150 square feet but I can give at least as much space, or even more, for occupations and livestock, because flooring, windows and doors are not required.

 

I am showing three plans here. The first one has the usual family living needs: —a "sit out" or verandah, three sleeping spaces, a kitchen and a latrine— but it also has a rear covered area where animals or poultry or a loom, etc can be housed. The second plan also provides an absolute minimum of living space, because I believe that the rural compound is used more, and is more vital and necessary than the house itself; so I provide a compound wall all round a small plot. It gives privacy and security. Animals need not stray away.

 

Various space taking occupations can be safely spread out, and so on and as and when money and materials are available —lean-to sheds, or roofs, or whole rooms can be constructed against the perimeter wall leaving a courtyard space in the middle, open to the sky. It also, incidentally, leaves room for a biogas plant system to use all the wastes of the family and animals. Strangely enough, although rather more bricks (or stones etc) are used, roofing and flooring is less and so cost-wise there is little difference between these two plans. The third plan is what we have called a "Core House" That is the essentials are provided first—: an energy efficient cooking place, a latrine and bathing place, some built-in furniture like a diwan and a table, and two separate sleeping spaces (which of course are used as 'living room' by day). The core house is deliberately high so that the owners can add on whatever they like all round the house, with the core  protecting the adjoining additions. There can be more living rooms, or there can be more working or animal verandahs, according to the needs and occupations of the family.

 

Before closing this article I want to make an appeal to all concerned to try and be realistic about rural housing. Materials are not automatically cheaper and if there are things like cement, steel, glass, etc they are much more costly. The rural person is not just hanging around idly and able to devote his time to building a house for himself. The urban wage earner may have working hours from 8 till 5 etc; but the rural work hours can be far longer and intense and, when important seasons like sowing, planning, weeding, harvesting, etc are over, there are all sorts of maintenance jobs to be done in the little time between seasons. His basic needs are greater than the urban person who has a water connection nearby, can buy gas for cooking, has electricity available, markets and jobs close by. The rural person may have to go miles for water or in search of fuel. There are no 'mains' or 'drains' to take away his wastes. Very often he has no proper access, neither for bringing materials for building or for occupations, nor for transporting goods to markets and places where he can trade the fruits of his occupations. We are far too inclined to romanticise his whole existence and forget his life of constant struggle.

In the end, it means that we cannot sincerely and effectively plan rural housing from a city office desk. We have to go to the villages and plan for their real needs.