Shunya: The Who, The What, and The Why

We are passionate young engineering and architecture students building a solar-powered, sustainable house for the Indian middle class, which could serve as the answer to India’s growing energy and housing problems. In 2030, the number of urban middle class houses is projected to increase from 22 million to 91 million. If this growth is allowed to happen unchecked, the country cannot expect to grow sustainably.

We are looking to demonstrate a sustainable home for the Indian middle class through our project, which will be a model for the building industry. The house will incorporate some traditional building practices like vastu, a central space, community resource-sharing arrangements etc. and at the same time modern innovations such as structurally insulated panels, a novel HVAC system, building integrated PV etc. We hope that the building industry will adopt some, if not all of these practices and create homes that are energy-efficient and sustainable.

 

Team Shunya

Team Shunya

The main problem that we are tackling is to create a sustainable house within cost constraints that the target population has. We have chosen a target group with an annual income of Rs 5-10 lakhs since this section is likely to be the one who will consume a lot of those 91 million houses. The house that we are currently planning is strong in all aspects of sustainability, but its industrialized cost is still above the affordability range of the target audience. Our aim is to employ technologies, materials and synergies that bring the industrialized cost of the fully equipped house (excluding the land cost) down to below 20 lakhs, which would make economic sense over its lifetime for the present day middle class to invest in.

 

Along with the cost, we have a holistic approach towards sustainability. Sustainability, in our opinion is a combination of 6 factors: environmental, economy, socio-cultural, human, design and technology. Each of these aspects have to be taken into consideration for a house to be truly sustainable. We have previously seen solutions that focus on one aspect of sustainability, thereby neglecting some other aspect and ultimately leading to a house that is not sustainable. Thus our focus will be to meet each of these requirements for a sustainable house, while bringing the cost down to the levels where it makes an impact on the target population.

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