Project Suitcase - Manchenahalli
Rayanakkalu village, Manchenahalli Gram Panchayat, India
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Location:
Rayanakkalu village, Manchenahalli Gram Panchayat, India
Category:
housing
Phase:
construction preparation
Updated:
8 August 2021
Dignity Through Design!

Indian Supreme Court (Article 21) has held that the right to shelter is not a mere roof over someone’s head but a shelter should be a home where the person has opportunities to grow physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually.

Project Suitcase by Nivasa is a temporary, humane and dignified housing solution for the homeless tribals living in abysmal conditions for more than a decade in Rayanakallu village, Karnataka.
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Introduction
A small tribal hamlet consisting of 24 families, live on the rocky terrain of  remote Rayanakallu village of Chikkaballpur district. These families live in dismal thatched roof dwellings, disconnected from the world in many ways. The living conditions are abysmal, with exposure to the damp floor, leaking roof, cold winters, harsh summers, heavy rains, with a perpetual threat of snakes and fire.

The trigger for action came in an unfortunate manner; a family lost their 3-month-old baby in a house fire! 

The Human Development Index (HDI) is directly linked to the quality of housing. Poor housing quality has devastating consequences on a person’s life chances, especially children. It affects their physical, mental & emotional health, education and future.

The unfortunate incident galvanized the government authorities into action. The Tribal Welfare department of Chikkaballapur district approached Nivasa to build temporary safe and dignified homes for the community, till such time as when the government is able to allocate permanent housing for them.

Nivasa decided to adapt the Project Suitcase model to cater to the various challenges this particular project presented. 

Nivasa developed Project Suitcase as a humane and dignified solution for the landless homeless, after carrying out extensive studies. It is a toolkit of housing components that is locally available, can be installed by the homeowner himself, is weather resistant, safe, portable and reusable!
Site setting at Project Suitcase - Manchenahalli

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Impact
Nivasa believes that true impact is the enhancement of human capability towards self-reliance in terms of  housing & infrastructure, awareness on education, health & hygiene, skill development & access to finances.

Providing homes for the first 10 landless homeless families has hugely impacted the community and has encouraged the remaining 14 families to work towards their well-being.  Project Suitcase is a housing toolkit developed by Nivasa that can be installed and dismantled by the homeowners themselves with little training, thus developing their skillset and making them self-reliant. For the Rayanakallu community, who lived without proper roofs over their heads, living in Suitcase homes has given a sense of security and dignity for the  first time in decades.                  

Nivasa followed a people-centric approach which ensured involvement of the community throughout the design and construction process. The community voiced their opinions and were involved in decision making, which empowered them to improve their living conditions by lobbying for electricity, clean drinking water and  toilets with the Government. 

While the men mobilised foundation materials, women joined hands to bolt the structure together. They owned the project so much that each of the families decorated their homes with paints and flowers creating their own identity! 

The local government body has further provided them with MGNREGA job cards for government projects and skilled them in block making. The local PHC center now visits the community for free monthly health check ups!
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Core team
Core team consists of donors, architects, engineers, volunteers, government agencies, religious organisations and community who all came together to work for a common cause in various capacities. 

Donors:
Without whose selfless donations we wouldn't have been able to provide homes for the first 10 families.

Akhila Ramesh, is the founder of NIVASA. She is an architect with Masters in both Urban Design and Project Management from NUS Singapore. Project Suitcase is her brainchild and has been working relentlessly to provide humane and dignified living conditions for the urban and rural poor in India.
Anitha Mahendra, is an architect with 5 years experience in social architecture
Ajinkya Mishra, is an architect who worked with the community in installation of units. 
Dr S Raghunath, is a structural expert and the brain behind all Nivasa's structual innovations.
Raju, is a fabricator who trained the community in installation of units

District commissioner's office of chikkaballapur district -  Allotted land for the community. Tribal welfare department skilled the community in block making as an alternative income generation.

Gram panchayat - Issued MGNREGA job cards, aadhar cards, voter IDs; Provided electricity and clean drinking water.
Community/ religious organisations- Donated cement bags for foundation.
Community played a pivotal role in making Project Suitcase a success in Rayanakallu. 
Subramani-Community leader who played an important role in bringing people together, empowering them to see the bigger picture and work towards it. (See end user list) 
Community with the officials at the inauguration

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Image gallery
The community

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Before occupation

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Before occupation

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The transformation!

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After occupation

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Site marking

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Foundation works

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Wall building

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Co-Building with the community

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Co-Building with the community

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Construction process

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Construction process

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Homes decked up for the inauguration event

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An end user in their safe new home.

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Technical drawings
The issues

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The design process - Prototypes

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The solution

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Co-Design process

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Co-Design process

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Design features

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Structural details

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Help bring our project to life!

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Where are we now
1.2 acres of land is allotted by the government for the community where Nivasa has built 10 of the 24 suitcase units planned, through crowdfunding. Each unit area of 168 sq.ft, costs about INR  1,14,296.98(~ €1303).

Nivasa trained the first 10 families who will help in installing the next 14 units. All superstructure materials will be procured locally. The stones for foundations will be mobilised by the community and they will also provide labour for construction of foundations. The local government body is providing water and electricity required for construction of suitcase units and is also building community toilets.

Nivasa is currently looking for funds to build the remaining 14 houses.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
100% expertise already found
40% builders already found
Finance: € 18,195
Out of 24 houses, Nivasa has raised funds through crowdsourcing and built 10 houses. There are still 14 families in dire need of  decent housing with majority of them being women and children. Their current living conditions are abysmal, with exposure to the leaking roof, harsh weather with a perpetual threat of snakes and fire. 

With poor housing quality having devastating consequences on a person’s life chances, providing these 14 families with safe, humane and dignified living conditions will impact generations to come. It will have a lasting impact on their physical, mental & emotional health, education and future.

The funding not only will provide them Home but will also give them Hope!
  • Construction cost
16,599
  • HR costs
1,140
  • Travel and accommodation
456
Skills: PR & Marketing
PR & Marketing: Videographers/photographers to create documentries to capture the impact to build beneficial relationships between us, government agencies, donors, partner organisations and the communities we serve. It also helps create awareness about the need of humane and dignified
Stuff: Equipment & tools
Equipment: Smokeless firewood stoves or solar stoves- The community is currently using firewood stoves made of 3 stones for cooking. The smoke does not allow the family to cook inside their huts. Exposure to smoke for long hours is causing critical health issues like difficulty in breathing, eye infections etc in  women and children.  The community uses locally sourced wood and kerosene to start the fire which are hazardous.  Recently, a 3-months old baby caught on fire and passed away in one of the huts. Smokeless firewood stove or solar stoves are not only energy efficient, but also is safe for women to use inside their huts during rains and reduces health and safety risks for children. 
For the supplier, providing this community with smokeless firewood stoves or solar stoves helps with visibilty of their brand/product, building network with other organisations, government agencies and creating awareness on their product to build their business. 
Hands
For volunteers, joining hands with the community to build 14 suitcase homes in Rayanakallu Village is an opportunity to be involved in a cause greater than self. Co-construction of homes for the homeless community which is a tangible representation of development, creates a lasting impact and serves the community for years. Co-construction encourages community participation which enables growth from within the community and provides an opportunity for volunteers to interact with the community to understand the issues faced by the landless homeless tribal communities at grassroots level.

Volunteers, design experts, structural experts, vendors, donors, local government agency and the community come together on a equal platform to collaborate (Not compete! ) and address a common objective.  Effective partnerships leverage the strengths of each partner and apply it strategically to the issue at hand. Such partnerships not only increase lease of knowledge, expertise and resources but also push entities to see and understand issues from different perspectives.
Help bring our project to life!
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