Insights from Mr. Dhamodharan, Director of Operations, FHD Group Written by Sriram Ramakrishnan, FHD Group
As designers of over 25 million sq.ft of affordable housing projects across multiple cities in India, we wanted to share strategic insight on how to transform affordable housing projects into aspirational affordable housing solutions suitable for India’s growing middle class.
By 2022, India could overtake the US to become the second-largest middle-class population in the world with over 380 million Indians, as per the Brookings 2017 report. With the growing number of middle-class Indians comes to the increasing demand and need for homeownership. There are robust discussions on the supply shortage of affordable housing. However, discussions on a shortage of quality are not as focused or as robust, although these aspects are critical for project success.
We believe that middle-class Indians, referred to as ‘aspirational middle-class’, need a housing solution that satisfies their aspirational goals and is scalable to accommodate increasing demand. We believe that achieving aspirational affordable housing across tight budgets requires expert design thinking and solutions.
From our experience, we’ve listed key criteria that can truly transform affordable housing to aspirational affordable housing.
Homes for Indians: improving aptness in home design
We believe that homes should be designed keeping in mind the everyday requirements of average Indian families. Given the inelasticity of budget in this segment, it is our responsibility to design the home from the end-users perspectives, needs as well as future aspirations. This inelasticity also demands that there is little or no wastage of space and materials. Amongst many efforts, we have also explored a 3-grid planning system that works well and is a good strategy for energy conservation through daylighting & ventilation principles.
Energy planning: reducing running costs for home-owners
We believe that it is important to encourage responsible energy consumptions through three prongs
1: designing solutions based on daylight and ventilation principles to optimize energy consumption,
2: selecting appropriate MEP systems so that long-term maintenance expenses can be reduced.
3: actively engaging end-users on energy conservation and its direct benefit to personal well-being through education and awareness.
Quality community spaces: improving social engagement
Active outdoor spaces, appropriately programmed & sized community facilities and produce-generating landscaping will clearly differentiate aspirational affordable housing. We believe that it is important to provide ample opportunities for home-owners to be socially engaged through various activities such as community farming, playing, knowledge sharing and more.
Site suitability: reducing everyday inconveniences for home-owners
We believe that strategic design insight during site selection will significantly contribute to project success. For instance, proximity to social infrastructure (such as schools, banks, healthcare facilities, etc.) helps build a stronger and more rooted community of home-owners. And by locating the project on a site that reduces commute times between home, work, and schools, we can alleviate everyday inconveniences and support end-user well-being. Additionally, we can take advantage of views & vistas through careful site planning to help improve the visual quality of the built environment.
As market leaders in designing for this sector, we believe Aspirational Affordable Housing (AAH) is the way forward for addressing the needs of the growing Indian middle-class families. We are continuing to research in this segment and will be issuing periodic insights. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know how to lead this change and mainstream AAH across cities in India.