The fall-out due to the life styles and development
strategies of the last 100 years in terms of inequity, growing pollution
and depletion of natural resources, has made us all aware within the
global community that the basic needs of the growing population will
not be met through the conventional developmental methods, materials
As the need for land, food and housing increases rapidly, we are faced
with the pressure of supply. The concept of development then needs to
be re-examined to be able to meet the demand. We need to create and
promote new approaches for a more accountable and sustainable future,
where "solutions grow from place". Where there is 'ecological
accounting' and 'equity in resource accessibility'.
Taking these criteria into account we need to examine
how to evaluate and arrive at appropriate solutions for development
in terms of shelter. The following write-up is an attempt towards that.
Analysing the two words 'appropriate' and 'technology'
could define appropriate technology.
Appropriate: - 'suitable' and/or 'right' solution which is in
context or is applicable to a particular situation.
Technology: - 'systematic application of knowledge put to some
Appropriate technology is a term that can thus have multiple interpretations
depending on the context, the end user and the generator.
Guidelines for the generation of appropriate technologies
1. Satisfaction of basic needs
The technology should contribute, directly or indirectly,
immediately or in the near future, to the satisfaction of 'basic needs',
such as food, clothing, shelter, health, education, etc.
It should produce goods and/or services accessible particularly to those
"whose basic needs have been least satisfied".
2. Resource development
It should make optimum use of local factors (manpower,
capital, natural resources, etc.) by:
* Sustaining/generating employment with low capital/labour ratio
* Saving/generating capital (low capital/output ratio)
* Saving/generating raw materials, including energy
* Developing skills plus R&D and engineering capabilities
It should increase the capacity to produce on a
'sustained and cumulative basis'.
3. Social development
It should reduce debilitating dependence and promote
'self-reliance' based on mass participation at the local/national/regional
levels, enabling the society to follow its own path of development.
It should reduce inequalities between occupational, ethnic, sex and
age groups, between rural and urban communities and between groups of
4. Cultural development
It should make use of, or build on, the indigenous
It should blend and enhance valuable elements and patterns in the local/national/regional
5. Human development
It should create mass involvement by being accessible,
comprehensible and flexible.
It should liberate human beings from boring, degrading, excessively
heavy, dangerous or unsanitary work.
6. Environmental development
It should minimise depletion and pollution by using
renewable resources, through built-in waste minimisation, recycling,
and/or re-use and blending with existing eco-cycles.
It should improve the natural and man-made environment by providing
for a higher level of complexity and diversity of the eco-systems, thereby
reducing their vulnerability.
Criteria for identification
Criteria used to identify the most appropriate building
materials and technology:
Building material : availability and accessibility
Technology: processing and assembly
Human resources: skill and equity
Climate and comfort
Buidling materials - accessibility and availability
Auroville is in rural Tamil Nadu, India, which means:
Often poor transportation links
Lack of sufficient energy supply
Lack of building machinery such as shuttering,
mixers, cranes, power tools
Conventional building materials are of poor
quality and of unreliable supply
Given these constraints, the most obvious materials
are ferrocement and earth. The domestic architecture of the poor was/is
earth, which makes the acceptability an import aspect of consideration.
The strategies adopted were to build demonstration buildings within
Auroville to prove the suitability of the said materials and technologies.
Due to the geographical location and absence of sufficient capital,
had to have low economic input, eliminating
materials and technologies which need heavy machinery or infrastructure
had to be accessible for use, which means people
had to be able to learn and apply with minimum of training
the maintenance aspect of the finished structure
had to be minimal as the earning level of the people was insufficient
to replace or repair on a regular basis.
Human resources and skill
The Auroville area being a seasonal agriculture
zone, craftsmanship was not developed in this area as there is no agricultural
Constructional work force is semi- or unskilled,
so the training required should be minimal and easy
Education level being insufficient, the building
industry should lend itself to the use of the unorganised sector.
Climate and comfort
Auroville is in the hot-humid zone with extreme
temperatures in the summer, which implies:
Comfort with maximum ventilation, which means
Humidity and erosion control
Time-lag in the building materials has to be
low as the difference between the day and night temperatures is
not much: lower building mass, high material to strength ratio.
More accountable and sustainable practices of development
are called for in view of the Indian crisis of high population growth
and natural resource crunch:
Solutions must grow from the place itself, which
requires information on the local conditions and people
Renewable energy usage
Recycling of waste
Integrated site developmental approach.
Economics are dependent on very diverse factors,
some of which are not within local control. But certain factors can
be controlled by the local area for the enhancement of the local economy.
Less outflow of money and other resources by
the adoption of certain technologies and materials
Creation of employment by up-gradation of local
Innovative use of the available building materials
Direct market and supply connection - elimination
of the middleman
Labour intensive approaches