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Progress on Structural Technologies for Affordable Housing

March 2019
There has been a decent amount of progress on structural technologies and each developer has a choice, from building a conventional structure going all the way to precast or tunnel forms. As Rahul Sabharwal, CEO, VBHC Value Homes, observes, “The choice of technologies depends on what needs to be constructed in terms of volumes and at what speed we need to construct (depending on sales).”

“We use precast, tunnel formwork, aluminium formwork and sandwich panel technology, depending on what the project needs,” says Rajesh Krishnan, Founder & CEO, Brick Eagle. “Prefab technology is perfectly suitable for mass housing projects” According to him, there are already a lot of good technologies in the market today such as prefab that are not being used. Prefab is used all over the world, but not in the scale that it should be in India. “For a country that needs to build 5 million homes a year, why are such technologies not being adopted?” he questions.

In the past two to three years, Mahindra Lifespaces’ affordable housing brand, Happinest, has studied 32 construction technologies used worldwide for mass housing projects. “Of these, we have shortlisted five technologies, keeping in mind the Indian scenario,” says Amit Pal, Vice President-Operations, Mahindra Happinest. “Of these five, we, along with IIT-Madras, have developed a hybrid technology and have adopted the same for constructing buildings at our Happinest projects in Avadi and Boisar.” This hybrid technology is basically a lean foundation with a shear wall structure and light weight concrete blocks as the building envelope. 

Further, as the horizontal spread is greater than the vertical spread in affordable housing projects, there is a need to develop a technology for the foundation that is not time consuming, and is more cost-effective. “We have developed trench foundation technology, wherein the foundation is made with mass concrete ,” shares Pal. “With this technology, the foundation work for a building can be completed in 20 days or less, as compared to conventional methods, which would typically take months. Yet another simple, time-and-cost-effective technology we used in our Happinest Palghar project is the grillage foundation. It is like a closed grill at a low foundation depth that does not need much time to construct. This technology has helped us improve speed of construction.”

Parameters for Technology Selection
  • Durability: The structure should have a longevity of 50-60 years
  • Earthquake and wind-resistant
  • Faster construction
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Improved space utilisation for customers.
Source: Mahindra Happinest

- SERAPHINA D’SOUZA