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Panel house launched in India by RICS
A revolutionary concrete panel based house has been launched by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in India which is aimed at providing quality affordable homes.

Called the India Concept House (ICH), RICS says that it will reduce on site construction time by 90%, deliver housing in just four to six weeks and can have one to four rooms.

In a country that has a housing shortfall of nearly 27 million homes, and inherent construction problems including shortages in skilled manpower, traditional brick and mortar construction is hugely limited, it points out.

Housing in India is still hand crafted and the industry is heavily depended on manual labour and on site construction. This leads to large amounts of material wastage and labour inefficiency, not to mention reduced quality and thermal comfort levels, says RICS.

ICH has been developed with the objective of bringing standardisation, and the principal of supply chain and assembly line production to construct houses. The project was inspired by the automobile industry, in which vehicles were also hand crafted until Ford's introduction of the Model T in 1908 introduced assembly line production.

Affordable housing in India need a similar approach of component based off site production with supply chain linkages to the material suppliers and backward linkages to create skill manpower. This will help houses to be manufactured rather than built.

The mass housing concept is being introduced by RICS in partnership with Sam Circle Venture and its partners, Kieran Timberlake and Project Well.

‘India Concept House demonstrates that it's possible not only to construct affordable housing out of pre-fabricated technology, but also to create an eco system of manufacturing and assembling solid and quick to build affordable housing for ordinary people,’ said Amber Malhotra, managing principal of Sam Circle Venture.

'I believe this is an initiative that has great potential to give an impetus to the affordable housing sector in India today. My personal belief is that this will see great success in Tier II and Tier III cities of India where there is more flexibility and availability of land. The role of technology in creating innovative products such as India Concept House has the potential to commoditise the housing sector in India today, and I see industry bodies and other stakeholders needing to play a big role in driving both acceptability and adoption of the India Concept House in the immediate future,' he added.

‘This is an attempt to not only design a house, but to create an entire eco system by which a new industry category will get created, consisting of manufacturing units, assemblers and after sales support. This will require new skill sets, and conversion of unskilled construction workers to acquire new skill sets, there by creating an opportunity to build capacity in the building industry, which is an area RICS is committed to,’ explained Sachin Sandhir, managing director, RICS South Asia.

There are four key features of the house; building panels, fast construction time, being sustainable and self sufficient and efficient to deliver.

The panels are based on a modular component system which relies on precast concrete technology to provide solid, durable, prefinished panels for painting or tiling and if desired, eliminates finishing entirely.

The construction time can be reduced by 90%. Its modular construction system enables a 23 square meter home to be built in four weeks and a 93 square meter house to be built in six weeks. The components are easily transportable, eliminating the need for material handling equipment.

The house is designed to reduce energy usage by 50%. It achieves an even temperature throughout the year. Water is captured and recycled.

‘While this was designed within the Indian context, and responds to India's unique culture, we think it forms the basis for a model that can be applied to a variety of cultures worldwide,’ said James Timberlake, the design partner for ICH.

A prototype will be built in 2012 in order to evaluate manufacturing, delivery and construction, and to measure the house's thermal comfort, energy and water consumption. RICS will promote the concept to the industry as an example of the kind of offsite mass housing solutions which can revolutionise the market for affordable mass housing solutions in India.
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