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DMU students to support innovative building programme in India


More than 100 Architecture students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are to fly out to India to support an innovative house building programme that brings new hope to families.

They will be helping to build homes in The Loving Community in Ahmedabad, in one of the poorest parts of the city. Every year houses are flooded when monsoons come, forcing residents to leave their homes for weeks on end.

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Students, all from the second year, will have the chance to be part of a grassroots architecture project working alongside a local architect Anand Sonecha, contractors and residents in this collaborative development.

The work links directly with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a series of global goals to improve life for people around the world. DMU has been made a UN hub for goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Simon Bradbury, Interim PVC Dean of the Faculty of Arts, has been involved in the project from its inception.

He said: “I think what’s really exciting about this project is that it brings together a whole range of aspects which are important to us here at DMU.

“The work we are doing in the Loving Community and our activities in Ahmedabad, focus on the delivery and support of public good and the Sustainable Development Goals, but also build the skills development, experience and understanding of our students in a connected and holistic way.”

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Simon Bradbury meets Loving Community residents

As part of the project, local manufacturing companies give marble and concrete dust – materials normally thrown away – which are used to make floor tiles.

Residents are being taught how to make the tiles, which are then purchased for the building programme. The idea is to set up a micro-business to provide more income for the community.

Contractors and companies from the community are used to supply the building expertise and materials for the metal doors and kitchen worktops, to ensure the process is sustainable.

Money for the homes comes from contributions made by DMU staff to the Square Mile India Fund, donations and fundraising. It cost around £11,000 to build the two homes.

They will stay for a week in groups visiting Ahmedabad between November and February. Students taking part will have to pay only the costs of a visa, hotel and food and drink.

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DMU's Nish Tailor will be working on the project

DMU Architecture graduate Nish Tailor will be project managing the building programme, leading and supporting students.

He said: “I think the students will get a lot out of it. They will realise how different people live, and how architecture can change people’s lives. They will also have to think about the practical side like dealing with local materials, weather conditions, and being part of a build.”

Anand said: “It’s a real honour to be working for people who really need help, to work on something that ensures architecture is for everyone not for the few.

“For the students it is an amazing opportunity to work right on the ground with the contractor, be able to make floor tiles with the residents and experience a project developed with the community.”

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The Loving Community was set up in 1968 for former leprosy sufferers and their families. There are 125 homes on the site, which is one of several centres in Ahmedabad supported by charity Manav Sadhna.

The charity built a community centre and developed a programme of arts and education to build skills. Hot meals are cooked and served every night to deter the reliance on begging.   

In December, DMU alumni will join students. They are raising money to be able to join the trip, with cash raised going to support The Loving Community.
Posted on Friday 5th October 2018

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