Circular Communities For Housing

One of the biggest challenges facing global warming and extreme poverty is indifference. This project is based in the kampungs (urban village) of Cigondewah, in Bandung, Indonesia. Bandung, like many cities in the developing world, is facing a rapid growth in its urban population, in 2010 the city had a population of  2.4 million people, which is estimated to increase to 4.35 million people by 2050. The density of population will grow from 14,283 people/km2 in 2010, to 25,888 people/km2 in 2050. A lot of the people moving to the city from the rural areas in search of better jobs, settle in the peri-urban areas, next to many textile manufacturing factories, based along the Citarum river. These factories, not only offer extremely low wages to the workers, but also pollute the local environment. The Citarum river is often called the most polluted river in the world.


The project is located next a major textile factory, 'PT Kahatex'. It employs roughly 20,000 people at its facility in Cigondewah. The low-income of the workers and the local Governments insufficiency to provide decent affordable housing, has given rise to an informal building industry. These informal builders, due to their low technical skills, produce poor quality constructions. As much as 70% of the housing stock in the city is built by these informal builders. Indonesia has a current housing shortage of around 11.5 million homes. Although, the government has introduced a few schemes to tackle this problem, like the 'PERUMNAS' program, the 1:3:6 policy and the Kampung improvement program, they have failed to address the situation on a bigger scale.

One the other hand, the city produced around 1500 tonnes/day of Municipal Solid Waste in 2010, at the current growth rate of 2-4%, it is estimated to rise to 2700 tonnes/day by 2030. Out of this 1500 tonnes, half of it was land filled, 80 tonnes was recycled, around 70 tonnes was burnt in the open, 13 tonnes was disposed illegally, and over 10 tonnes of waste ended up in the rivers. Around, 50 tonnes of this waste was collected by the informal waste pickers, these waste pickers collect, sort and sell all types of recyclables, and such local informal recyclers are very common in the developing world and  they are very vital part of the local waste management system. Out of the 1500 tonnes of daily MSW, 470 tonnes is recyclable, around 182 tonnes is waste plastic. Indonesia is one of the 5 countries in the world that combined contribute to around 60% of all the ocean plastics in the world.

The design strategy is to create a decentral circular system, by integrating the local economies of waste recycling and the informal self-build housing industry   to solve the problems of plastic pollution and the affordable housing crisis in Indonesia. For this purpose  I have designed a set of building elements using waste plastic and glass which can be produced locally through extrusion molding, to empower communities to build their own houses, making housing construction simpler, cheaper, faster and most importantly more sustainable. The building blocks are designed to be a simple stack-able technique of construction, with a self-locking design, like blocks of Lego. When we spoke to the people of Cigondewah about the use of waste plastic bricks to make their houses, they said that, as long as its durable, affordable, easy to use, and it looks good, they would have no problem in using it.

Each Apartment is designed with front and back balconies/porches, as they are an important space of everyday Kampung life. 14 unique layouts have been designed,the layouts are designed to facilitate flexibility of arrangement. The houses can be stacked up to G+2 floors to create denser neighborhoods. 

A typical house of 45 m2 can be constructed easily by a family of four to six within 2 weeks, using the designed bricks. That is around 2000 bricks in total, constituting 6 tonnes of waste plastic and 6 tonnes of a filler material, which is added to improve the compression and the fire resistance of the bricks. The bricks have a compression strength of 10.5 - 11.5 N/m2, a normal clay brick is around 3-5 N/m2. A neighborhood, of 3000 people in Indonesia, generates enough plastic waste in 4 - 6 weeks, to construct a house for a family. That is 10 -12 houses per year. 

The intention of this project, is to help people help themselves. This model of a decentral circular housing system, can then be replicated in other neighborhoods around the country, or even other countries facing similar issues. The broader goal of the project, is to reduce environmental pollution and to reduce the global housing shortage with a solution that has a high social, environmental and economic impact.


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