Competition continues to grow steeper for the 2016 Fuller Challenge, which is already down to the final six initiatives. For the first time, student-run projects went face to face in their own category in the Challenge. Out of dozens of submissions, the inaugural Student Category Winner title went to The Center for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology (CHHAT) from the Vadodara Design Academy in Gujarat, India.
The initiative is a collaborative hub where students experiment and disseminate their strategies to ultimately address real-world, contextual housing needs in their local community — and beyond. At a time when housing shortages are a global problem, the need for viable solutions is dire as ever.
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Starting out as an academic experiment, CHHAT evolved into a full-fledged initiative where student volunteers from every level of the Vadohara Design Academy's five-year program dedicate their time. Mentored by professionals within and outside the academic environment, CHHAT continuously works toward creating practical structural shelter solutions that are user-friendly, sustainable, adaptable, and economically feasible. CHHAT's design-build process also involves local craftsmen, who help the team produce lightweight tent-like dome structures made from natural materials that are locally sourced or recycled.
The dome shape of the structures pays tribute to Buckminster Fuller's iconic geodesic domes, CHHAT describes. “The Dymaxion House and geodesic structures are ideas that have outlived Buckminster Fuller’s mortal life. Our work is deeply inspired by his principles, as we put all of our efforts towards the benefit of society. The Challenge has provided a platform to frame our work and ideas,” stated CHHAT co-founder Sapan Hirpara, who serves as a CHHAT advisor and is currently a student at the CEPT University in Ahmedabad. Hirpara entered CHHAT into the Student Category competition
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The dome structures were originally intended to address immediate needs on the Vadodara Design Academy campus, but CHHAT surely isn't stopping there. They hope the structure can be widely adapted in rural and urban communities to aid in various functions — like fun social activities and gatherings, agrarian purposes, temporary shelters in informal settlements, immediate post-disaster emergency shelters or emergency medical camps.
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“This student project embodies the integration of anticipatory and participatory design with appropriate technology solutions. CHHAT attempts to find a ‘universal building solution’ while remaining attuned to place-sourced materials. Buckminster Fuller held that ‘philosophy, to be effective, must be mechanically applied’. CHHAT provides a compelling demonstration of how students are achieving this in real-world,” BFI Board Chair Dr. David McConville said in a statement.
All images courtesy of the 2016 Fuller Challenge competition.
Find a video feature on CHHAT and more project images below.
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