Passionate architecture students see their ideas become a reality in India

A passion for architecture has taken two students halfway around the world to support a house building programme which is slowly changing lives.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Architecture graduate Nish Tailor and Postgraduate Architecture student Anisha Meggi helped work on the original designs and interviews for the Loving Community Project, to build new homes for former leprosy residents and their families in Ahmedabad, India.

NISH ANISHA SIMON main

Anisha, left, Simon Bradbury, centre, and Nish, right, are given a tour of the homes 

They were in Ahmedabad to see the first two homes officially opened this week – and for Anisha, it was a chance to meet up again with residents whom she first met back in February when the project began.

She said: “To see these houses now is amazing…the homes before were so dark and dingy and it was just constant flooding and their lives were taken up by that. It dominated their days and nights.

“It’s really nice how they are owning their homes straight away, decorating their courtyards and houses, putting in rugs. The rangoli pattern was a traditional south Indian one. It’s lovely. They are so proud of these homes.”

Anisha, who is also a part-time lecturer at DMU, said: “In the longer run, within Architecture itself, we are trying to deliver a way in which people’s lives are changed through the way things are built.”

For Nish it was the first time he had met with residents, although he had been involved with drawing up designs for architect Anand Sonecha while at DMU.

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He said it was amazing seeing the homes become reality. “They looked great. I had only ever seen drawings and we worked on different design proposals for Anand. You can see the difference that these homes have had on the families and their community. I’m really excited to get started on working to build more.”

Amy White, Deputy Head of Public Engagement at DMU Square Mile, and Simon Bradbury, Interim PVC Dean of Arts, Design and Humanities, are also in India to see the project.

For the next six months, Nish will be supervising and leading groups of Architecture students as they fly over to work on the mass building project which is supported by DMU Square Mile India, charity Manav Sadhna and architect Anand Sonecha.

There are 125 houses in the Loving Community, which was created on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 1968. Two homes have already been rebuilt thanks to the project, and work is now set to start on four more houses.

Nish said: “I think the students will see how complicated it is to fit so many people into such a small footprint. Anand has done such a good job thinking about how people use the space. Each home is slightly different because each one will be adapted slightly based on what people want. 

“The students will realise how different people live, and how architecture can change people’s lives. They will also have to think about dealing with weather conditions, local materials. It will be a good experience.”

Nish will also be helping to test new ideas such as making bricks from recycled paper for partition walls working with local architect Anand. He gained a First for his work to design homes using green technology, exploring using cheaper, more sustainable materials and natural processes like solar energy, wind and rain to build homes.

Nish will combine his work with Square Mile India with a placement at Enfield Council in London, where he is part of the urban planning department. He plans to carry on the MArch programme next year, working towards rigorous professional architectural qualifications.

Posted on Thursday 4th October 2018

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