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Diminishing disasters through Better Building Designs
The year 2018 saw the unusual deluge of floods in Kerala, a disaster nobody was prepared for! Nearly 2,51,227 houses in Kerala were severely damaged, of which, 14,886 collapsed. Many areas in and around Kochi were affected. Even luxury flats in Kochi were not spared. For the common Keralite who dreams of building pompous bungalows, this was a lesson learnt the hard way. Today the thought process has changed for the better. People are now more commonly thinking of diminishing disasters through better building designs. Many Keralites are now thinking in the lines of architect Laurie Baker, who was a relentless campaigner for building eco-friendly, low-cost houses that could withstand natural disasters in Kerala which is an ecologically fragile state.
Most of those houses that had collapsed in the floods have now been rebuilt or repaired. But the question is, can they withstand another natural disaster? Safety of buildings cannot be ensure unless and until all the future construction in the state of Kerala strictly follows the environmental norms. The focus of builders in Kochi is now on simple green buildings which can withstand all kinds of natural calamities.
Pre-stressed Concrete Buildings
Recent trends in construction have seen the usage of pre-fabricated, pre-stressed technology for concrete panels. When compared to traditional construction materials these panels are 30 times stronger & can hold out against any kind of natural calamities. A set of ‘infill houses’, low-cost eco-friendly houses which are initiated by the TKM Engineering College, are going to be built in Munrothuruthu, the ‘sinking delta island’ in Kollam district, which is routinely facing climate change-related issues like floods.
Amphibious building style
In places in Kerala where the persistent saline wind is the villain, Amphibious building style has been adopted in building construction. In this Netherlands model amphibious house, it rests on the ground like ordinary houses most of the time, but when floodwaters come, its buoyant foundation lifts it up. Nearly 200 houses are going to be constructed in Munrothuruthu.
Elevated houses in Prefab style
In Kuttanad which lies below sea level, flooding is not a new phenomenon. Elevated houses are now being constructed in ‘prefab style’ are ushering in fresh hope in the building construction scenario. The houses are erected over 1.2-metre high pillars made with Sun steel, concrete panel and non-asbestos roofing sheets, etc. These houses are believed to be able to withstand floods & an earthquake of the magnitude of 7 on the Ritcher scale.
Most people today are now preferring eco-friendly independent houses with architecture design, pillaring, plastering, etc. done to withstand natural disasters. Treated bamboo, mud and concrete are used to construct Pillars & plastering done by using mud tiles, coconut shells and treated bamboo.
In the last 10 months, many builders in Kochi have come up with flood-resistant designs, and some have constructed different kinds of eco-friendly homes across Kerala. No one should take chances but should plan to avoid another disaster at any cost. We should be seriously thinking of diminishing disasters through better building designs.