Easy to build and robust housing concept in pipeline for Fiji
The designer of a new traditional Fijian style simple robust home is hoping his concept could be an easy and affordable solution to the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston.
A Fijian architect John Grey says his design for a simple, robust home will be easy and affordable for those suffering in Fiji after Cyclone Winston.
More than 17-thousand people still need emergency shelter two months after the category five storm and more than 30-thousand need training to rebuild better homes.
Mr Grey has joined up with the aid group Caritas to come up with a concept which will dovetail with a more stringent building code and the government's housing package announced this month.
He spoke to Sally Round in Nadi.
JOHN GREY: The house is to reflect a basic rural dwelling where currently there are four walls, it's probably about six metres by about four metres, it has three or four windows, two doors. It creates the external kitchen, the external toilet and bathroom. The cube would be the internal living area, no internal partitions but it's going to be built based on the current functions of a rural village dwelling whereby all the functions of the home are based on the floor. There's very little furniture inside it.
SALLY ROUND: And that's a typical style of living in Fiji.
JG: That's very, very typical. What we intend to do as well is to create the structure out of 100 by 50 timbers which is a regular section that can be bought anywhere, that all details of fixings - roof to walls and walls to floor - would be simplified in terms of the connections so that the basic tools that you use would be a hammer, a saw and basically that would allow you to be able to build your home. The number of nails etc are going to be specified and created so that all requirements would be in the package that would be brought to the site to build.
SR: And you talked about one person in the village knowing about the code and passing on the knowledge. That's part of the plan too?
JG: What we're trying to do here is to consider the current social structure that the Fijian village exists in where there are certain people that do certain things within the village administratively. So what we want to do is take it one step further, to allow these people in the village to know and understand how dwellings or houses must be constructed and that these certified members within the village will be approached when anyone wants to build a home, will be asked the questions and then they would supervise the construction of these homes and at the end of it sign off.
SR: And you as an architect you obviously know a lot about the building code at the moment. Do you think it's timely that it's made more stringent?
JG: Yes, because currently there are laws in the country that say that every structure should be built according to the code but there's also unwritten laws, I guess, that do not require those living in traditional villages to build to the code. So we need to get this right and rural dwellings must comply. How we regulate that and how we police it is the big question here.
SR: Because there would seem to be alot of questions still hanging over this package that has been announced.
JG: Definitely and for our purposes all we are trying to do here is simplify the building structure so that at the end of the day anyone can build it to comply with the regulations.
SR: And do you see this as important with the climate change issue around the Pacific and could this be rolled out elsewhere?
JG: Absolutely. It's a concept that could be taken into other countries because it's going to be economical, it's going to be practical in terms of the approach to living.
SR: And how much would a standard dwelling like you're suggesting cost?
JG: I'm going to say at this stage, because we haven't quite completed the bills of quantities, that it would be in the vicinity of $10,000 or less. We are saying that if the rural dweller comes into this with their own, what we call "sweat equity", then that price can come right down.
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