Tata's Prefab 'Nano' House for India's Poor

By August 4, 2011 Blog, NewsBites

Tata proposes affordable housing in Mumbai

Right on the heels of the $300 House initiative, the Indian company that brought us the world’s cheapest car has unveiled its design for a $720 flatpack home for India’s poorest: Tata’s ‘Nano’ house. Consisting of coconut fiber or jute walls and measuring 20m²/215ft², the house can be built in a week and is meant to last for (a maximum of) 20 years.  An upgraded version for an unknown price throws in an extra 10m², a solar panel and a veranda.

We don’t know what the rest of the house is made of, how it addresses the living habits of its intended residents, or how it holds up in extreme climatic conditions or flash floods, let alone to daily wear and tear. The design is being ‘tested’ in West Bengal and representatives claim that advice from village councils was collected as a part of design research, though we have no way of verifying that process. Tata hopes to sell the house to private buyers who have a plot of land available and also to state governments planning mass residential schemes for India’s millions of destitute and homeless. As Designwala comments, in light of this and Tata’s commercial venture into affordable housing development left and right, “it is tough to make sense out of the $720 house given that backdrop.”

There is still scarce information on the $720 house; we don’t even know what it looks like (the images used in the various posts covering the house are either random flickr images or not explicity sourced from Tata). In any case, we think that poverty issues are more likely to be solved by integrated systems and best practices rather than one-off designs that aim at becoming the world’s cheapest home.

What are your thoughts on the Nano house? Does it look like a sustainable housing solution for India’s poor?

Read more:

The Independent on the $720 house

Treehugger article on the $720 house

Fast Company’s article on the $720 house

The Hindu on Tata Housing’s Affordable Homes

*feature image via Economic Times, Mumbai.

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