A Home in the Salt Marsh

A multidisciplinary group of five students took upon the project for designing a temporary shelter for the Salt Farmers of Little Rann of Kutch. The project started with a basic literature review of Kutch and the life of the salt farmers which was followed by making a preliminary mind map for conducting an efficient user study. In order to understand the target users, the team visited Karaghoda. The visit helped build empathy for who the Agariyas (the salt farming community) are and what is important to them. The visit began at Rann where the team investigated a temporary settlement that had been left behind by the salt farmers and proceeded to the off season permanent settlements of the Agariyas. The team watched and interacted with the salt farmers in their homes as well as in the local temple. The interactions with the Agariya community helped us learn what they need. The team returned from the field visit and conducted a team share to define five problems which were then taken back to the target audience the following day to be sorted. On the basis of the sorting, the problem statement was defined.

The team returned to Grambharti for ideation. Brainstorming sessions were conducted to generate wild ideas and widen our thinking. The team was fortunate to be able to use positive deviance from a pre-existing style of architecture prevalent in the Agariya community. Different concepts were further generated by finding design directions to various parts of the problems.

A 1:2 scale prototype was constructed at Grambharti with the help of other summer schools participants and other residents of Grambharti. Different materials and methods were used for different walls to decide upon the final design. The final design was then constructed at the Little Rann of Kutch itself by the team, with the help of a few workers belonging to the Agariya community. The final prototype had to make some compromises in terms of unavailability of material, such as grass obtained only after the monsoon season. However, the final prototype was a success in terms of withstanding environmental extremities and impressed a salt farmer enough for him to accept it as his home.

The following clips show parts of our 15 day journey designing a temporary shelter for the salt farmers.

The team will continue its journey of designing, iterating and implementing a home for the salt farmers of the Little Rann of Kutch. We look forward to suggestions or feedback in the hope that we can provide the Agariyas with better homes.