Inside a few of the 72 rooms. Most of the improvements to the accommodation are things that don't look so glamorous in photos - drainage, so that water doesn't pool in monsoon breeding diseases like malaria, cholera and dengue. Ventilation so that hot air can escape. A door that is able to be locked. Raised plinths so that water doesn't flood the rooms in monsoon. Toilets. Electricity - lights, power sockets and fan points. Water points. Clothes washing areas. Gas cylinders and double burners, so people are not inhaling smoke fumes from cooking over fires etc
We arrived back in NZ a few days ago after finishing the labour housing project *almost*. Something we often wonder about as we reach our own familiar context (Auckland) is if we will be able to convey the huge accomplishment we have achieved (building labour colonies in India). We are pretty sure that for most New Zealanders and the architecture community (worldwide) our projects might look incredibly simple, in terms of technology they are... but complex social and economic barriers we faced, meant this project was far from easy. But we did it. We built something. Big. The project will house 350 people (currently it's at about 200). These photos of this lived in labour colony were taken the day we left and are from a neighbouring site. We have seen countless labour colonies that look like this in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Indore and Haryana. Unfortunately it is very common and when you see the reality of the current situation it visually helps puts into context why our most recent project is ground breaking. With the limitations we had to work with it is something we are proud of. According to Aajeevika Bureau there are 1.3 million migrant workers in Ahmedabad and 100 million in India are seasonal migrant labourers. Our project, as far as we are aware of (after 5 years in india and 4 years studying labour colonies) is the first of its kind. We know that this project will not solve this massive social issue, which goes beyond the limits of architecture, but it will improve the lives of the hundreds of people who will stay here over the next few years temporarily and may contribute to much needed attention to the issues migrant labourers face.
Today we started on taking surveys from people living in the project to get feedback to see what we could do better next time and what we can do to improve this project. The surveys will be conducted one on one by Kajal, who also lives onsite. Here we are running through some of the questions to see if they are clear and seeing what changes we should make to the survey. Some agricultural shading net has been put up over the playground area too, which helps heaps with the heat. We still need to add some more tyres to the tyre pyramid then we will be done with the playground.
The green agricultural net hanging outside creates a cool green glow inside of the crèche. The summer heat has now arrived and it will start climbing up to 45 degrees soon (could even reach 47). In the afternoons the teachers have started pouring water on the floor over some areas in the building to aid in reducing the heat inside. We have seen this done on other sites too. Today we recorded temperatures around the project with a thermometer. Outside in places read 46 degrees & inside the crèche read 40 degrees. There is not a lot we could do to reduce heat with the materials we had to work with (steel sheets) apart from trying to make the space as well ventilated as possible. Obviously roof insulation would be the next step. We have to take things one step at a time. The activity wall has been extended with items we have been collecting from the Ahmedabad sunday markets.
Morning prayer time at the creche... the video starts at where the entry doors are and walking past the jali screen wall to the back through the bamboo and wire fence for yellow flower creeper plants to grow up. We hope to be finished the playground this week. It will have a couple of agricultural net shading awnings above this outdoor area so the kids can play in the shade ☀️ 43 degrees today! The do not enter sign is not for parents and kids but for random visitors to the site who often just barge into the crèche disrupting lessons! It is for keeping strangers out.
A mother checks on her children in the crèche through the open metal screen wall. Metal screen walls (called jali in India) are common features on many buildings to stop monkeys and other animals coming in. Having one of the facades completely visibly open additionally to the large entry swivel doors and doors to the playground was an important design feature of the crèche, which was suggested by the ngo SAATH. They have worked with families from labouring communities before and explained to us how parents can be wary of leaving their children with strangers (teachers). Having a transparent facade means that the parents can look in or say hi to their kids throughout the day without disturbing the lessons. An additional benefit in the open wall is that the swivel doors can be opened up in parts or in full for ventilation. Parents are also welcome to go inside the crèche at any point and do for breastfeeding or to sit down while the kids settle in. The jali screen wall is just an additional method of checking in quickly, to reassure parents that their kids are okay.
Shade cloth going up between buildings to aid with the Ahmedabad heat. This agricultural net is commonly used throughout Ahmedabad to protect against sun. Hanging it between buildings on this project helps create shaded intimate walk ways and open spaces as well as buffering the sun directly hitting the thin walls and openings. Today was 42 degrees!