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  • Writer's pictureNusrat Jahan Mim

Residual Mobilities 3.0: Alternative Housing Design for Cyclone-prone Areas in Bangladesh

This project focuses on the habitation system of the low-income communities in the Kutubdia Island of Bangladesh, which is frequently devastated by massive Cyclones. The post-disaster rehabilitation programs by the Government and NGOs predominantly invest in constructing permanent buildings. However, due to their limited budget, and the unavailability of many materials, those buildings often lack necessary robustness. On the top, the extreme poverty in that area does not match with the maintenance cost of giant structures. Hence, gradually those buildings become unlivable. The objective of this project is to build modular housing units that re-infrastructures the existing materiality, and empowers local communities to combat natural disasters through making, breaking, and fixing. The design method incorporates critical ethnography, and participatory design sessions with local people.

From post-humanist emotion to post-colonial ethical standard: Beyond the realm of economic advantages, repair also reproduces a post-humanist relationship between people and the artifacts they live within. Repair stands for the preservation of history, culture, and identity of a community by restoring the values into the materials. Repairing moments bring people closer to these values, and bind them together with their culture through art and craft. Coastal buildings, thus transcend the functional meaning of “shelter”, and emerge as the cultural identity of local people. At the same time, strengthening this bond between people and their houses essentially resists the intervention of the colonial values into the local dwelling system, and thus preserves the ethical standard in post-colonial design space. Hence, the scope of this project goes beyond the functional needs of the disaster-affected communities in the coastal areas, to providing them with their political identity and voice.

From Globalization to Sustainable Development: This project connects the spirit of post-developmental political economy to the design practice for vulnerable populations by challenging the foreign-aid based development programs. First, this project reduces the dependency on “outsider's help” by involving local materials, expertise, and knowledge in making, breaking, and repairing the housing units. Second, this project offers a platform for local people to develop their art and skills of making and fixing housing units in a challenging context, which has the potential to introduce a new market of skilled labor. Thus, this project demonstrates ways how the devastation of disasters can be taken into the advantage of the local communities through a novel infrastructure of material practices. This extends the situational architectural support for disaster-affected communities to the broader goal of sustainable development through local innovation and creativity.

Co-Author: Zakir Ahmed Opu



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