A team of Newcastle architects have swapped their drawing pens for shovels to help on a voluntary housing project in India.
Craig Van Bedaf, Adam Lee and Hannah Darmody from Pod, based in the Toffee Factory, Ouseburn, together with a team from client Miller Homes, recently jetted out to Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu province in South East India.
There, they linked up with the Habitat for Humanity charity to help construct several houses for the local Irula tribe, who currently live in mud huts with no running water or toilet facilities.
Habitat for Humanity is working with the local government to develop the scheme on a small parcel of land that will eventually see 22 homes constructed. The homes have been designed to withstand the earthquakes and monsoon floods, which are common in the region.
The Pod and Miller team dug deep during their five day stay, drawing on their combined expertise to lay the foundations and cast the concrete columns for two houses. This involved mixing over 10 tonnes of concrete and back-filling 12 tonnes of soil by hand.
The lack of mechanised construction equipment also saw the team repeatedly fill 15 pans of water, sand, cement and hardcore and passing these by hand to where the concrete was made.
Once the houses are complete in 2019, they will be signed over to the woman of the house, reflecting their equal status in the household.
Pod director Adam Lee said that it was one of the woman’s dream to be able to see her children sleep on a concrete rather than dirt floor.
He added: “We’re really honoured that we could be a part of something that’s making a real difference to people’s lives. The Irula people have very little, so I hope that we have been able to contribute in some small way to a brighter, safer future for them.”
Driven by a vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity is a Christian housing charity that began in 1976 and has since grown to become a leading global not-for-profit organisation working in more than 70 countries.
Pod was established by Craig and Ruth Van Bedaf in 2007 and provides a range of architectural and design services. It currently employs 12 staff at its office in the Toffee Factory, Newcastle, and undertakes residential work, primarily with large regional housebuilders across the North of England. These include national housebuilders Bellway and Storey Homes, as well as Northumberland Estates.