After the catastrophic 2017 Northeast India floods ravaged the state of Assam, the nonprofit SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) teamed up with local organization NEADS (North-East Affected Area Development Society) to create 80 core houses that are resistant to flooding. Designed and built in collaboration with the local community in Assam’s subdivision of Golaghat, the 80-unit development draws inspiration from the region’s vernacular of stilt houses built from bamboo. Concrete footings and rubberized coatings were introduced to strengthen the elevated, disaster-resilient homes.
Located within India’s largest bamboo reserve, near the major Brahmaputra River, Golaghat lies in the valley of Assam and experiences a tropical monsoon and rainforest climate that brings heavy rainfall and flooding almost every year, problems that are compounded by the region’s high seismic activity.
“Vulnerable to natural disasters, the self-reliant Assamese communities have developed indigenous construction and planning techniques over the centuries, creating a built-environment exclusive to the terrain,” SEEDS explained. “However, due to haphazard development in the region, the traditional knowledge systems are being ignored, leading to an unsafe environment, loss of lives and livelihoods. The intervention was formulated with a vision to build resilient communities through participatory design, illustrating a model of contemporary vernacular architecture.”
With financial support from Indian conglomerate Godrej, the community-driven project saw the completion of 80 bamboo stilt houses, each 23 square meters in size and designed to meet Sphere Humanitarian Standards. The stilts that elevate the house are tall enough to create a spacious shaded area underneath that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as weaving, rearing livestock, storing boats or recreation. The building’s flexible joinery system also allows the homeowners to raise the floor even higher in case of overflooding. The construction is strengthened with deeper bamboo footings encased in concrete, rubberized bamboo columns for waterproofing and cross-bracing.
Images via SEEDS