CRAFTING FOR THE CRAFTSMEN: On-site Accommodation for the Construction Workers in Bangladesh

This design research explores design possibilities to ensure improved on-site living conditions for the construction workers, who help realize the vision of architects by crafting the buildings they design
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Designer(s) : Samia Anwar Rafa

University : Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

Tutor(s) : Dr Khandaker Shabbir Ahmed and Maherul Kader Prince

The expression of architects’ work is realized through the construction of their designs. But the impacts of this construction on the builders are often neglected. The fast-expanding building industry of Bangladesh is creating new job opportunities for the ever-growing population. As a result, construction workers are internally migrating in search of work. Although these workers are vital to the country’s economy, their right to adequate housing is obscured by the massive construction projects. Employers who are responsible for their employed workers’ proper accommodation, absolve themselves of their responsibilities by just allowing them to live on the building site. Having no means to afford proper living facilities, the majority of these workers are forced to live in dilapidated, self-made, temporary dwellings on construction sites. With no national strategies in practice to ensure their quality of living, the govt. also turns a blind eye to this workforce, who are practically building the nation.

The research begins by studying previous trends in the construction industry regarding the treatment of the workers to reinstate their need for on-site living. After examining the available literature, it evaluates policy instruments relevant to their housing practices. Next, to explore the possibilities of accommodating workers in tight spaces, global examples are studied and divided into three categories. Because of its high urban influx and construction development, Dhaka, the capital, is chosen as the scope location. In addition, a plot size demarcation between 3-10 Katha for the research has guided the design outcomes and principles. This scope area-specific data is collected from different sources and analysed to generate basic design guidelines.

By pursuing these specifications, this thesis formulates policy reforms and a cost-effective piloting-ready prototype design. The design is carried out in four segments-a unit design, design of probable expansions of the unit, design for different site conditions and, other on-site services design. The living unit is devised from the current on-site living practices and material uses. Materials considered for each component are comparatively analysed to select the most appropriate material. They are ranked according to their availability on-site. But in some cases, the boundary of availability is expanded to accommodate found materials close to the site or materials sourced from second-hand markets to keep the cost low.  The unit is designed to give protection from the outside environment, withstand accidents in a hazardous site and upgrade their current living environments. The derivation of a frame-panel system creates scopes for expansion and reduction of the unit to accommodate variable worker numbers and to adapt to different site conditions. To support the living unit, service units are also designed with scopes of scalability to serve varying worker numbers.

Lastly, to accumulate the multi-level policy changes, and to rationalize the implementation of the design, a fact sheet has been developed as a tangible outcome of this thesis. These policy directions alongside the design solutions offer standard living alternatives for the craftsmen of our country.