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Getting smart for a smarter world Few faces of changing India... Modi enters 7 RCR Technology for economic, rapid, mass housing
 
Technology for economic, rapid, mass housing
In the sprawling IIT-Madras campus I came across a swanky two-storey building with four flats. It looked sleek, elegant and was cooler inside. The interesting aspect was that this building wasn’t there a few weeks ago! The whole construction, including the finishing, had been done in less than a month!

Dr Meher Prasad, Head of Civil Engineering Department and his colleague Dr Devdas Menon explained this technology marvel which is an amalgam of innovation in design, eco-friendly construction materials and novel construction methodology that paved the way for rapid construction. The professors explained the concept of construction of mass housing in just about a month!

 

Shortage of 50 million homes

 

For long the country has been struggling to cope with meeting the demand for housing for its teeming millions. The housing shortage is estimated at 50 million. Despite increasing allocation for the expansion of low cost housing, the dent made has been poor.

IE has been pointing to the unrestrained increase in land prices and the mindless rise in the cost of all construction materials. The numerous clearances required, lack of standardisation, unconcern for mechanisation and archaic construction techniques contribute to lengthy construction time  with consequent impact on finance costs. The result: frequent and huge rise in housing costs.

We have been pointing to the benefits of collaborative research between industry and institute.  Saint-Gobain Research India (SGRI) has set up a world-class research facility at the IIT-M Research Park for collaborative efforts on building materials, abrasives and ceramics for hot and humid climates. Dr Anand Tanikella, Managing Director, SGRI explained the thrust of such efforts as application-oriented, ie. research for results. He explained a tripartite approach of bringing together an Australian expert Peter Zwaans who perfected the innovative concept of calcined gypsum plaster with special additives and glass fibre panels at one end; the expertise of IIT-M faculty and research team to work on the design, structure, building code and construction methodology at the second end and the thrust of SGRI for innovation in building materials as the third. The object: to work towards elegant, economic and rapid construction for mass housing.

P K Gopinathan, Director, Rapid Building systems, India facilitated the visit of  a  five member team to Australia to study several projects including multi-storeyed buildings that had been built with this technology of ‘rapid wall’ construction. On return the team decided to look for refinements of this adapting it to Indian needs.

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