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Ludiya: Partnering with People
An Effort in Redevelopment with Community Participation

The Philosophy

The 'house' is the ultimate physical manifestation and expression of an individual's identity. It is the private realm of absolute control over which one exercises complete authority and is therefore the platform on which his needs and desires begin to be realized. Thus the character of the house reflects not only the aspirations of the resident, but is also an indicator of his social, economic and cultural inclinations and standing.

Housing design could be of distinct origins: either the result of an elaborate and sustained self selection process collectively by the users themselves, a natural evolution of tried and tested methods of space making to suit the socio-cultural lifestyles of the people over the years; or the outcome of the consolidated effort of a specific group of people with authorization to provide housing solutions to a different and larger user group. The former case is typically seen in traditional builtforms and housing types, while the latter is a more recent phenomenon (seen predominantly in the post-industrial age).

The traditional dwelling typologies and houseforms were ideally suited for the climate, culture and lifestyles of the region, since these were the basic resources which initiated their design. They were also tailored to the individual's requirements - using the architectural vocabulary and language unique to the people, but articulated as per the needs of the person. This led to an overall builtform of collective coherence with vitality and diversity due to individual specificity.

In a community comprising of a varied number of individuals, it becomes important to realize the fact that regardless of the common collective identity they possess, each individual is unique in himself. This observation would be a direct reflection of the need for Man to both belong to a group as a social animal, and simultaneously preserve his individualism as a thinking being.

This understanding of collective conformity with independent identity is vital to the designer in the process of providing effective solutions to the issue of mass housing. The lack of appreciation of this fact could result in the treatment of the process as creation of 'shelter' for a specific number of people - a mere statistical solution.

Kutch has a distinct identity essentially derived from its indigenous culture, its traditional architecture, local craft and ethnic communities, which is very vibrant and unique. This is a living heritage; i.e. the lifestyles of the people are still steeped in traditional practices, even today. The culture of this region has a distinctly visible identity.

This vibrant and culturally rich region has been devastated in the recent earthquake. And we see in this calamity an opportunity to revive and strengthen the same through interventions by playing a facilitator's role in participatory processes involving people and community in redeveloping villages in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. This process involves the following areas of intervention.

Housing
Social structure
Economic structure
Amenities and facilities
Resource management

The scope of work:
Community building
Social redevelopment
Rehabilitation
Newer development

The village of Ludiya epitomizes the case of the traditional village of these parts, with characteristic lifestyles and builtform. The building pattern emerges out of the processes of evolution of a socio-culturally and geo-climatically relevant and contextual builtform. This village also has a stark and visibly distinct character which easily helps distinguish it as representative of villages in this region. Strategically located near Khavda, and being nodal in terms of proximity and available infrastructure (electricity, water supply etc.), the village was ideal for demonstration of the participatory method of design.


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Village Profile

1) Name: Ludiya

2) Location: Banni District, Kutch. 70 kms towards North from Bhuj, 500 kms to the NorthWest of Ahmedabad, 3 kms from Khawda.

3) Area: 5 sq. kms

4) Address:
Ludiya village
Banni District
Kutch

5) Population: 1800 people (350 Harijans, 1450 Muslims) 225 families

6) Communities:
Scheduled castes: 66 nos. (50 in Naya Vaas, 16 in Purana Vaas)
Muslims : 159 nos.
Lokmani Phaluji
Jagmalani Phaluji
Tajvani Paru
Mahepayi Vaadh
Gova Vaadh
Movar Vaadh

7) Occupation:
Decorative furniture (men)
Bharat potan (women)
Agriculture (monsoon farming) and labour
Cattle breeding and animal husbandry

8) Education: Primary education (upto 4th std - Govt. primary school: 2 teachers)

9) Amenities:
Electricity available
Panchayat Ghar existed, but is now obsolete
Water supply from tankers and Khavda pipeline

10) Organisational features:
Lies on the north-eastern edge of Banni, forming part of area called Pachcham
Village comprises of 2 large clusters - Muslim and Hindu (harijan)
Organic plan geometry
No streets - residual spaces between houses used for movement
Unit edge defined by plinth, Cluster edge defined by brush fence
Incremental growth of unit and cluster
Intricately decorated dwellings from inside and outside
Characteristic typology of 'bhunga' dwellings



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Layout of existing clusters
The village is made up of different housing clusters. The Muslim clusters are the main ones, found in Ludiya, Gova Vandh, Movar Vandh, Mepai Vandh and Khadda Vandh. The Harijan community is divided into two clusters - the older Harijan Vandh and the more recent settlement, the Nava Vandh. Each cluster is comprised of various dwelling units, depending on the number of families. Each family cluster also depends on the number of its members.

Glimpses and Identity

People


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Craft


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Architecture and Construction


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Project Proposal

The 'bhungas' of Banni

The bhongas are a typical traditional house form peculiar and characteristic of this part of the country.
They are manifestations of the vernacular building traditions exemplary of thesocio-cultural and geo-climatic contexts of this region, thus in part, contributing to the distinct identity of this area.
Ludiya village, lying deep in the hinterlands of the Kutch region, has more or less completely retained its authentic and original character, both in terms of the built environment as well as the lifestyles of the people without getting affected by extraneous forces.
The Harijan community, traditionally, are more inclined to construct these elaborately decorated and intricate dwelling forms characteristic of these places than the other Muslim communities. The Harijans also exemplify the characteristic means of livelihood through the traditional crafts of decorated wooden furniture, embroidered clothing and leather, while the Muslims are more often employed in pastoral pursuits.
There was a general trend of neglect and unwillingness on the part of the Harijans in the younger generations towards the continuation of this tradition of 'bhunga' construction due to various external influences and pressures - primarily economic and otherwise (time taken for construction, periodic maintenance, fire hazard etc.) deteriorated to that of a 'shelter' alone, resulting in the undervaluation of the traditional wisdom behind their making.
Ludiya epitomizes the case of the traditional building pattern emerging out of the processes of evolution of a socio-culturally and geo-climatically relevant and contextual built form. This long established and successful pattern, which holistically integrated lifestyles, resources and resultant builtform, was suddenly being abandoned and vandalized due to modern economic pressures.

The earthquake of January 26, 2001, that left most parts of Kutch devastated and in ruins, came at a time when the villagers had begun to give up the traditional building form in favour of the "pucca" houses in stone masonry, an influence from the urban centers signifying a more 'permanent' and 'prestigious' habitat. The fact that very few of the traditional dwelling types were affected severely by the quake, while almost all of the so-called 'permanent' dwellings were more or less razed to the ground, brought to the fore the wisdom of the ancients once again. This accidental but practical test, allayed the fears of the villagers, made them realise the sense behind the 'bhunga' and became the opportunity to convince them of their inheritance and the need to conserve it, at the same time not having to compromise on their aspirations.

Ludiya: Earthquake affected structures

Type of house
Bhungas
Kaccha
Pucca
Kuccha-Pucca
Totally destroyed
5
50
36
13
Irrepairably damaged
7
41
30
22
Repairably damaged
13
17
13
16
Little damage
3
1
45
4
No damage
8
2
0
1
Total
31
111
84
56

Bhungas unaffected by earthquake

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The Participatory Process


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Stage 1: Motivating the people and discussing the requirements of the relocated settlement. From these discussions, establishing parameters of the area and extent of the site, number of plots needed and the facilities required.


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Stage 2: Simulating a process and proposing a site plan based on the organisation of clusters around open spaces. The organisation of clusters was to take into account the interrelationships of the peopl of each plot, their proximities to the road and other site features.


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Stage 3: Feedback and reactions from end users. Understanding their priorities, aspirations and preferences to be able to reconsider proposal to suit their needs.



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Stage 4: Aspirations of the users showing prioritisation of relationship with circulation nodes and accessibility as well as respecting social hierarchies, significance and status. Spiritual needs of orientation, sanctity and auspicious elements.


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Stage 5: Reorganisation of layout with feedback incorporating reactions, yet introducing open spaces, maintaining inter/intra relationship of plots and spaces and the sequence of plots on the site.



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Stage 6: Carrying the simulation kit onto the site for reaffirming and confirming the layout on the actual site. This is also to assist better visualisation and smaller onsite improvisations.



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Stage 7: Pegging the typical plot cornerson the site for the estimation, confirmation and realisation of the extent, orientation, plot size and shape.



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Stage 8: The result of the participatory processes of incorporating the feedback from the users in the evolution of the layout at a schematic level of relationships and proximities.


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Stage 9: After full confirmation and agreement of the users, the finalised site plan is drawn up denoting ownership also.


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Stage 10: The built form of the village is allowed to evolve from the independent requirement of each family.

Project Progress


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Provision of construction materials and creation of a material bank for the village.


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Each family involved in the construction of their own 'bhunga' with family members contributing their time as manpower.



This report was contributed by the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design
Sangath, Thaltej Road, Ahmedabad - 308 054, India.
Telephone: 079-7451555
Fax: 079-7452006
E-mail: vsf@vsnl.com

Environment Design Team : Vastu-Shilpa Foundation
Yatin Pandya
Dilip Karpoor
Sonya Jensen
Babubhai Jethwa
Ranish Trivedi

Principal Non-Governmental Organisation: Manav Sadhana



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