With a vision to ensure housing for all through optimum utilization of scarce resources and vernacular techniques, Housing and Building Research Institute (HBRI) was established in 1975 under Housing and Public Works Ministry. Since its inception, HBRI played a leading role in the development of inexpensive and new technologies for construction through pilot projects while promoting new and better uses of commonly used building materials; both in rural and urban areas. The following section gives a glimpse of research and development activities being carried out by HBRI in last 40 years of its establishment.
Improvement of Ferrocement Technology and exploration of its versatility
Ferrocement (FC) is a thin and light weight form of concrete consisted of sand cement mortar laid upon iron wire mesh. It is considered a very potential building material because of its light weight nature, easy technique and versatility.
Research is in progress on exploring the effects of different type of mesh including polymer, bamboo, and jute fiber as replacement of iron mesh in order to make it corrosion free and cost effective. Structural elements like pre cast post and beam of FC, considering rural settlements for now, are under test and results show better strength for FC elements than that of RCC.
Thermal block and sandwich panel with polystyrene
Polystyrene is incorporated in ferrocement in order to improve the insulation quality and named ferrocement sandwich panel. It is being cast in situ till now and properties under supervision. Another alternative building block is being studied which is made of sand cement mortar encapsulating polystyrene. Till now it is being cast in a volume of 4”x4”x12”.
Sundried brick made of dredged soil
With a view to control the use of cultivable top soil and carbon emission in brick production, dredged soil is used and sun dried. This material is receiving much attention countrywide and properties are being tested in laboratories. The impact of weather when used as external wall is under supervision. The size of regular brick is considered for this block.
Utilization of ETP sludge in building material
Study is going on to incorporate ETP sludge into building construction with a view to utilize the industrial waste that does considerable harm to our environment. The methodology includes incorporation of ETP sludge along with dredged river soil, reaction between which creates geo-polymer and restricts the hazardous particles to leach out consequently. The physical tests are undergoing.
Various types of FC slab and roofing elements are already in practice. Depending on project nature relevant one can be utilized. FC channel, folded plate, L panel, FC corrugated sheet are the types and they are used as designed modules pre cast elements. It is estimated that use of FC elements instead of RCC slab reduces the construction cost up to 20-25%.
Ferrocement is also being applied as non load bearing walling elements either pre cast or cast in situ. Door window frames and shutters of FC are in progress. Ferrocement because of its lightweight nature is used as the floating base of floating houses.
Study on housing for disaster prone areas
Innovative and cost effective architectural and structural solutions for different disaster prone areas are being searched for. At present research is in progress on housing for cyclone prone areas and haor (flash flood prone) areas. HBRI is also assisting with different government project including ASHRAYAN-2 in developing disaster resilient designs with its techniques. Already four pilot constructions have been completed in four different areas having different disaster profile. For erosion prone areas such structure was provided so that pre cast elements could be dismantled and transferable. For flood prone areas the housing elements were considered treated so that it will not degrade under prolonged stagnant water. Floating house is also another type for flood prone areas. Circular shaped stilt house was provided for cyclone prone area.
Emergency Sand/earth Bag Shelter
Concept sand/earth bag technique is derived from the temporary and emergency barracks of wars. It is mainly developed by Architect Nader Khalili and won Aga khan award. Architect Iliona khalili initiated this technology in HBRI through a hands on workshop. HBRI is studying on adapting this technology into our culture.
Studies in progress
Extensive studies are undertaken to develop standard housing guidelines for cyclone prone areas. This includes questionnaire survey to the coastal belt and analysis of the findings, which ultimately will lead to be the basis for guideline formulation. The study is taking into account the inclusion of gender and disability issues into design. Research on housing for HAOR areas are also in progress.
Seismic Response Analysis through Reaction Frame
Earthquake today is an important concern. HBRI is studying building behavior under earthquake and techniques to design earthquake resistant buildings. Extensive research is being carried out on Seismic response analysis through a reaction frame. The role of partition walls in increasing the strength of RCC elements are observed here and solutions for soft story incidents are studied.
Multistoried rural house prototype (construction in progress)
It is a pilot construction of the concept of multistoried house in rural areas in order to control the unplanned housing on cultivable lands. Structural frames are designed with RCC and all the other elements are designed with ferrocement including stair.
Current focus of HBRI is to promote cost effective and lightweight building materials to ensure affordable and sustainable living both in rural and urban context. A major concern is to alternate the burnt brick technologies to ensure safer environment. HBRI seeks contribution and assistance of all the relevant personnel to make its effort a success.