People everywhere in the world need and share a common dream: an affordable home of their own – a roof over their head. What is more, they want a place that is adequate, or can be made adequate over time, as money and resources becomes available, and which allows them an opportunity to participate with physical labor. A Do It Yourself (DIY) approach. Also if people are willing to collaborate and pool their resources and work as a community – the odds will favor them. Such homes need to be strong and resistant to earthquake in seismic zone such as Pakistan, California, Caribbean countries and Western USA; need to be non-combustible (unlike wood) – for fire hazard zones – such as Colorado, new Mexico, Arizona, Haiti; flood resistant in New Orleans and other areas of USA and world with seas rising with Global warming; need to have a low carbon footprint to fight Global warming; need to be well insulated so comfortable in extreme cold or hot weather without requiring fossil fuel dependent on mechanical and electrical equipment. All this at a lower price than what the market has to offer. Difficult but gradually being made true.
However no one will offer these technologies for free as in a market economy most inventions are done to profit from them. Inventions drive a market economy, it creates incredible wealth and progress – but not everyone is able to enjoy its fruits. Javed Sultan is offering these technologies, after decades of work, for free if you can help him prove the concepts through his prototypes. This will allow folks who do not have the income or means to afford and own a home – to perhaps acquire a home one day.
Javed Sultan of SARID (South Asian Research Institute for Development) a professional Architect and Civil Engineer has been working on such solution for decades and believes he can better the odds for the common person. He wants to build more prototypes in order to convince the skeptics that new approaches are possible if one thinks out of the box. He is using reinforced concrete – one of the strongest materials known to man- to adapt to different situations requiring varying strengths. He has built in seismic zones, non-seismic zones, high wind areas, and now is experimenting in flood zones. He utilizes a technique that he calls MASS – Membrane Assisted Seismic-Responsive Structures for walls, and utilizes VS or Versa-slab – a lightweight reinforced concrete slab. The materials used to create the walls are panels of pre-cast, light-weight concrete – but strengthened in special and proprietary ways. This Fero-concrete is lighter than conventional brick and concrete buildings for equivalent strength. The Versa-Slabs are composite pieces of reinforcement and concrete that do not require wooden formwork or decking and can span up to four car widths or close to 18’ to 20’ and can be lifted and put on a roof by hand. The Walls are easy to make have a very high insulation value ( R rating) – and can be made eight to 12 times better insulated than uninsulated concrete or masonry for equivalent thickness – and a wall system of equivalent strength. Furthermore, Sultan uses building techniques that adapt to the design requirements. In seismic zones the structure flex and are elastic so they dissipate the seismic energy, and do not collapse. Furthermore, Sultan encourages what is known as “sweat equity” – high owner or community participation in creating new homes, schools, clinics or commercial buildings. He emphasizes taking unemployed, unskilled people and training them to become skilled at the business of building structures. His design allow for gradual expansion of facility as money becomes available to an owner.
To fully understand where Javed Sultan is coming from, you need to go back to the videos – and there are many of them on YouTube – of the massive earthquake in Pakistan in 2005. Concrete high-rise buildings have come down on people, cars and smaller buildings. His structures in seismic zones such as in Kashmir, built some nine years ago for a major local NGO called the Aga Khan Foundation, have experienced close to Richter 6 earthquake and show no distress or failure of any kind.
Now a decade later there are still families who have yet to be able to return to their former standards of living. He is aware that Pakistan is not the only part of the world where people have lost lives to natural and other disasters. He believes that helping people build environment (earth) friendly buildings, to which solar, wind and geothermal energy sources can be added is one answer to many of the world’s problems. He has built prototype structure successfully in Pakistan, Haiti, USA and including in severe earthquake and high wind zone. See his website for details.
Currently, Javed Sultan and SARID is working with the Sisters of Charity Ottawa (SCO) in Lesotho to build a prototype energy efficient building that will be used to house the elderly. He wants to raise money to demonstrate his self-help (DIY) techniques for starter one room soil-cement homes for Lesothans. When this project is complete, the plan is to move to New Orleans to work with impoverished families to create owner-built homes.
There is an owner-built home Kickstarter crowdfunding website set up by Javed Sultan. You can learn more about the projects at that location and by going to the links to SARID, and to Kinoo—his own company. By pledging $15.00 or more, you gain the opportunity to receive plans for one or two bedroom homes constructed with these time tested techniques. One plan will be for homes in USA and another for a developing country. The plans will include ways to incorporate solar energy and passive solar hot water heating as well as passive cooling strategies for very hot climate. These plans will only be available to those who support this initial and crucial crowd funding initiative through Kickstarter – see website link below.
Everyone deserves a home. Building with lightweight, ecological and ‘Green’ materials, by using manual labor, and ways that do not profit third parties, who will live in DIY homes is not necessarily a new idea. However, perhaps we need someone like Javed Sultan to come along every now and then to remind us that everyone needs a safe, comfortable and affordable place to live – if they are willing to pitch in their physical labor. It is not as daunting as it looks – when explained in DIY manual in a methodical and step by step manner with videos and sketches.