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  • Writer's pictureNusrat Jahan Mim

The Jugaad House

Emergency Housing Mexico: Housing for Mexican Slum dwellers

“Jugaad” is a Hindi/ Bengali word that refers to flexible approaches to solve problems in innovative ways by using limited resources. Marginal people of the Global South innovate, practice, and sometimes mimic different Jugaad methods to overcome constraints in their daily lives, often to build or repair their houses. They manage to close a leak on the ceiling with wax, add an extra layer of privacy by hanging a piece of fabric as a curtain inside a room shared by 5 people, hang a polyethylene bag from the wall to store clean clothes, place a bucket at the corner of the roof to collect rainwater, sometimes even hack the infrastructure to have electricity or water supply. Although these practices form a significant part of their culture and living style, seldom architecture responds toward this cultural need of the marginalized population.

The Jugaad House offers unlimited scopes to the dwellers to adapt, modify, expand, transform, customize, repair, and maintain it by themselves with the limited resources they have access to. For instance, the structural frame allows putting an extra shelf inside/outside the unit to make storage space or to hang a curtain from the ceiling to create a temporary room divider. Relocatable doors and windows offer more flexibility in natural or corporeal circulations. Layering and shifting ability of the unit increases the design’s potential to adapt to any landscape scenario. Insulation options (composite panel/ addition layer of polycarbonate sheet or tarpaulin) are also open to the users.

The objectives that have been achieved through the design are:

  • Build time has been reduced to 18 hours and only 2-4 people can build it on site with the prefabricated components.

  • Assembly complexities have been reduced since all the components are modular, and building process is repetitive. Only a well-described/illustrated manual will be enough to follow and build.

  • Lifespan of the foundation has been increased by following local techniques of construction. Composite wall panels have been introduced to ensure thermal insulation.

  • Modular configuration of the structure allows future growth of the unit.

  • Modular structural system ensures the highest flexibility to locate the house’s doors and windows.

  • Kitchen+bathroom module can be attached to any surface of the unit by following the same construction technique.

  • Locally available sustainable materials have been used.

The Jugaad House is not a dwelling unit that only serves the purpose of a shelter for the marginalized poor, rather it offers its dwellers a sense of belongingness that develops gradually and make it their home, where Jugaad can happen.

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