The green agricultural net hanging outside creates a cool green glow inside of the crèche. The summer heat has now arrived and it will start climbing up to 45 degrees soon (could even reach 47). In the afternoons the teachers have started pouring water on the floor over some areas in the building to aid in reducing the heat inside. We have seen this done on other sites too. Today we recorded temperatures around the project with a thermometer. Outside in places read 46 degrees & inside the crèche read 40 degrees. There is not a lot we could do to reduce heat with the materials we had to work with (steel sheets) apart from trying to make the space as well ventilated as possible. Obviously roof insulation would be the next step. We have to take things one step at a time. The activity wall has been extended with items we have been collecting from the Ahmedabad sunday markets.
Morning prayer time at the creche... the video starts at where the entry doors are and walking past the jali screen wall to the back through the bamboo and wire fence for yellow flower creeper plants to grow up. We hope to be finished the playground this week. It will have a couple of agricultural net shading awnings above this outdoor area so the kids can play in the shade ☀️ 43 degrees today! The do not enter sign is not for parents and kids but for random visitors to the site who often just barge into the crèche disrupting lessons! It is for keeping strangers out.
A mother checks on her children in the crèche through the open metal screen wall. Metal screen walls (called jali in India) are common features on many buildings to stop monkeys and other animals coming in. Having one of the facades completely visibly open additionally to the large entry swivel doors and doors to the playground was an important design feature of the crèche, which was suggested by the ngo SAATH. They have worked with families from labouring communities before and explained to us how parents can be wary of leaving their children with strangers (teachers). Having a transparent facade means that the parents can look in or say hi to their kids throughout the day without disturbing the lessons. An additional benefit in the open wall is that the swivel doors can be opened up in parts or in full for ventilation. Parents are also welcome to go inside the crèche at any point and do for breastfeeding or to sit down while the kids settle in. The jali screen wall is just an additional method of checking in quickly, to reassure parents that their kids are okay.
Shade cloth going up between buildings to aid with the Ahmedabad heat. This agricultural net is commonly used throughout Ahmedabad to protect against sun. Hanging it between buildings on this project helps create shaded intimate walk ways and open spaces as well as buffering the sun directly hitting the thin walls and openings. Today was 42 degrees!
This photo was taken in the canteen of our first project in Sonipat, Haryana. This first project had a similar structural frame, but was infilled with different materials because of the different context. The first project was on a dairy farm, so insulating the steel sheet walls and roof with mud and cow dung made sense because we had it on hand and it was also a lot smaller in scale: housing for 15 workers and a canteen for 30-40. The project we are working on in Ahmedabad now is much bigger: accommodation for 350 labourers and amenities for a further 70. We don’t have the luxury of materials like dung, timber, polycarbonate and discarded Kota stone. Instead we are working within the constraints of what we are provided to design with, which is the materials that have been agreed after much discussion with members from the development company we have been hired by. Simply put, the materials we are now using are the cheapest available and are the most realistic to be able to be dismantled and re used, all detailed to not damage the scaffolding frame work - not a single hole drilled into it so far. The materials we could use were things like: corrugated steel sheet, scaffolding, bison board in bathrooms and the crèche (too expensive to use anywhere else), thin pvc sheet for the doors and windows (this was 13 rupees per square foot compared to 40-50 rupee polycarbonate), door and simple sliding window panels made from standard L profile pieces, agricultural net, plastic cable ties and hose pipe camps.
Testing out swing heights with Rajesh and Revina. The white truck tyres are soon to be made into a big pyramid for climbing. One of the main intentions with the playground is to provide fun activities that encourage the older kids like Rajesh and Ravina (6+) to come to the crèche everyday. It is very common on construction sites here for the older kids in the family to be the caretakers of their younger siblings while their parents are at work. Even times when there is a “crèche” there is no incentive for those older kids to come as it would be an un stimulating and unfamiliar space for them. Including play for older kids, as well as for younger was really important for this project. If these older kids see this as a space that is for them too they will feel part of it and hopefully want to come everyday. Once they are here there are a range of activities for them to do with the teacher Nirali. One of the most satisfying things about this project so far is seeing these older kids be able to be kids. Screaming giggles and engaging with others their age. Seeing them go from withdrawn, serious and far too old for their age to children that are having fun. We have never wanted this project to depend on external agencies or rely on it being maintained. So every aspect of the design has to be built in a way that anticipates that no one will upkeep it. It is best not to solely rely on NGO’s who run the crèche to make sure kids of all ages want to come to school, so we built some elements that kids of all ages can engage with. We were inspired by @playgroundideas and downloaded the instructions for the playground elements from their great website.
There are 88 labourers living in the project now! More will move in when the next bathroom block is completed as the bio digester toilet tanks we have can only hold a certain capacity. We just heard today that now that Holi is over it’s now marriage season so we still don’t have labour to complete the project. We hope people return soon so the other bathroom blocks can be completed and the rest of the labourers who are onsite can move in. It’s so great to be on the site at night and see people using the space.
About 10 rooms are occupied now as people start to return from celebrating Holi in their villages. It’s interesting to see the ways that people have been using the rooms already. With the lack of storage and furniture and means, the labourers are very creative with what they can find onsite and the attachment points they use. The first image is of the care takers wife in their room. They have set an amazing example.
We bought a bunch of old National Geographic magazines from the Ahmedabad Sunday flea market and some other second hand kids book to give to the crèche. The older kids loved the National Geographic magazines! We cut out images that were not suitable for kids. Even though this group of children won’t be able to read the english text it’s still interesting for them to look at the images.
It’s been a month since we have had any labour on the site... because of Holi. So no major work has happened. We have been slowly getting ready for labourers and their families as they will start to return. The crèche is almost complete. Just the playground and the kitchen area to be finished now. The second to last image shows a view of two of the five blocks of the housing we have built and the very last image shows the type of housing labourers usually live in on construction sites.
So great to see this article from our friends at Aajeevika Bureau. It’s something we often discuss between ourselves - what governments, architects, builders and developers can really do for those who are truly the most vulnerable in society and what ‘Housing for all’ really means. Any architectural response needs to be appropriate to the user group and their life style. We know our project is not the answer or the solution to this complex situation but we hope it contributes towards some change for migrant construction workers in India. You can read the article here: https://thewire.in/222993/housing-for-all-migrant-workers/
Meanwhile... on the main construction site where a huge apartment scheme is being built some labourers are already back to work after Holi. The labourers who work here will live in the accommodation we are building during their time with this company.