Today starts off with a few students waking up extremely early in order to watch their beloved Minnesota Vikings in playoff action. While the excitement builds, we soon divert our attention to the daily tasks at hand and board the bus en route to the headquarters of micro Home Solutions (mHS) once again. When we arrive, we are greeted with the customary warm welcome and asked the one question that has yet to receive a negative response: do you want some chai?
From here, the co-founders, Marco and Rakhi, show us a quick stop-motion video on how their rooftop office, which we primarily work in, had been assembled through the use of lightweight concrete blocks and tensile fabric. The importance of this was to show how these materials make for a very sturdy, well insulated structure instead of the typical Indian home, which is made from very unstable and low insulation pucca material. From here, they explained the struggles in building the structure and led the discussion to the differences between how architects build their structures compared to the way slum dwellers design and build theirs.
Next, Marko takes over and draws our attention to the main focuses of mHS, which are the aspects of community, finance, and design. They feel as though a strong sense of community is vital to slum development, along with a cheap solution that has a sustainable design. The real problem lies in developing such a structure that will meet all those needs while also being accepted by the government.
He explains how while they have made plans and designs that are widely accepted by the community, the government has always shut them down. He talks about how the government has made promises they don't follow through with, provided nothing but low quality military tents, and ignored policies regarding their land use for development. All of this again reinforcing the difficulty of slum development now and into the future.
Finally, he brings us back to the task at hand, developing a "quality of life" index that can be implemented when comparing and developing slums. After a brief discussion, we are again split into groups as we meet with our teenage tour guides who lead us into slum communities where interviews are conducted with the local residents.