Palaces For The People
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Yahoo! Groups : Palaces4People Messages : Message 87 of 87

The ORISSA Budget -- Part #1
Orissa weblog #1
ORISSA weblog #2

Using published figures available from the internet, there is a price range for rebuilt housing following the Orissa, India, Super-Cyclone disaster of 1999.

The prices range from $632 to $1,600. A figure of $1,302 is mentioned for Habitat for Humanity (HfH) houses. The houses range in size from 12 square meters (129 sq.ft.) to 25 square meters (269 sq.ft.). The houses do not have provisions for pressurized tap water of sewer-piped toilets, no electricity or gas utilities, one door and usually one window only is provided. The portland cement fraction varies: 5% by weight for stabilized compressed earth blocks; sometimes a concrete floor slab (but not always, as rammed earth flooring is mentioned for some houses); and concrete roofing as modules or tiles. Reinforcing steel wire for the concrete is mentioned in some budgets.

Based on these figures, a comparison to Palaces for the People using the low figure $632 and the HfH figure of $1,302 is calculated on housing the same number of people: 118 housing units of one family each. The Orissa average is five persons per family unit, or 590 population total per 118 dwelling units.

The 12 m2 units are sometimes described as 10' by 15' (3m x 4.57m). All of the photographs show housing which is not squared, but rectangular with a narrower front than side lengths. For purposes of this comparison, square housing is used, although square houses get more internal space per outer perimeter walls than do non-square rectangles.

(Don't believe it? -- an exaggerated example is 12 meter by 1 meter rectangle has two 12 meter walls plus two 1 meter walls, for a total of 26 meters of built walls, but a square encompassing 12 m2 has four walls of 3.46m for a total of 13.86m of built walls, just over half as much walls in the square to enclose the same amount of inner spaces.)

EXTERIOR WALLS -------------------------

The 12 m2 houses then are given a best case of 13.86 m2 of walls per house, for a total of 1,635.48 meters of walls for 118 houses. These walls enclose a total of 1,416 m2 for 118 houses, or one-seventh of a hectare of inside spaces.

The 25 m2 houses are given a best case of 5 meter walls times 4 = 20 meters per house, for a total of 2,360 m of walls to enclose 118 houses.

Palaces For The People have six floors: 100m per side for floors 1 & 2, plus 80m per side for 3rd floor, 60 m/side for 4th floor, 40 m/side 5th floor, and 20 m/side 6th floor. The total length of sides for Palaces is 1,600 meters. The total number of meters of walls for Palaces For The People is 35.48 meters LESS than the total walls of the smaller houses, and 760 meters less than the larger houses.

Before anyone gets hysterical, let me say that I know that the cost of the inner walls for subdividing the Palaces into individual dwelling units has not been incorporated yet in the figures. The process of step-by-step working to final comparison totals involves intermediate calculations which are not complete.

The Palaces enclose 32,000 square meters on six floors inside walls. The outer walls which must withstand the battering of super-cyclones to come, are built from a higher cost material than the inner walls, so just comparing outer walls of one style of construction to another style of construction is a fair comparison.

ROOFING ISSUES ------------------------

The big difference is between roofing. The Orissa houses have a footprint, floor and foundation area, which is the same size as the roof covering area. A 12 m2 house has a 12 m2 roof area, and a 25 m2 house has a 25 m2 roof area. Palaces have a one-hectare (10,000 m2, or 107,639 sq.ft) of footprint, but enclose 3.2 hectares (32,000 m2, or 344,445 interior area floorspace, all under one-hectare of roofing area.

Unlike the Orissa housing, the Palace roofing is meant to be used for outdoor living space for 100+ years, and requires exceptionally strong and leakproof roofing.

Orissa housing budgets buys 1,416 m2 and 2,950 m2, for the small and large houses, respectively. This 14% and 29% of the 10,000 m2 roofing needed for Palaces, respectively.

Since Palaces need 3.3 times to 7 times as much roofing, this is an area of prime focus in deciding on roofing materials and construction methods.

FLOORING ISSUES -----------------------

Floors in Orissa models vary from concrete slabs of assorted method of constructions, to rammed earth floors of unfinished quality. While these types of floors might be satisfactory, or adequate for the purpose in detached single-family dwellings, they are not suitable for multi-story buildings such as Palaces.

Comparing costs of floor structures and surface finishes is very difficult. The website pages are not specific enough on the flooring to make good comparisons.

INTERIM CONCLUSIONS -------------------

Palaces have advantages on total floorspaces made available, and on total exterior wall structures needed to keep hostile weather outside from coming inside. They have significant disadvantages, from a purely housing focus, in the areas of roofing and flooring.

Additionally, Palaces have functional systems which have no direct equivilents in Orissa housing construction budgets: Palaces include power, water, sewerage, cooking gas, hot water, space heating and cooling utilities delivered to the occupied dwelling units. There is no budget to compare to in Orissa housing.

Orissans purchase kerosene for cooking fuels, and the collective annual budget for 118 families for kerosine may be compared to the the Palace utility costing. Additionally, a large amount of space in Palaces can be rented/leased/sold to government buildings or other community center structure budgets. For example, one webpage notes that cyclone shelters were built by the German government and the Red Cross, at a budget of $80 per life saved in the 1999 super-cyclone event. With 2,000 people cited as sheltered, US$ 160,000 was spent providing that shelter.

Adding the two together: $160,000 plus the small housing costs (US$ 632 per house times 118 dwellings =) US$ 74,576 totals US$ 254,576. The Palace easily offers substantially more protection and more space as emergency shelter, with 32,000 square meters under roof, and 22,000 of that five meters above the ground for flood retreat.

The larger 25 m2 housing model at US$ 1,302 per dwelling times 118 houses equals US$ 153,636. Adding the US$ 160.000 Red Cross community shelter budget comes to 313,636.

The Red Cross shelter combined as a tenant in a Palace, is only one of several synergies possible. Government offices, NGO offices and supplies warehousing, workshops, offices, shops and other activities can share "luxury" spaces, each contributing their share to the overall construction fund.

All of these issues will be explored further in forthcoming documents. At this point, solicitation of website links and data which corrects or confirms or extends the database collected so far would be helpful. Comments are welcome at every point of this exploration process. Hard data on supplimentary budget items, like the installation costs of wellbores and maintenance, the medical costs of seweage contamination causing diarrhia illnesses (and worse), the costs of annual workhours to provide substitutes for Palaces utilities (carrying water jugs for hours, gathering twigs or dried animal dung for cooking fires) should be gathered for a true cost comparison to determine if living in poverty is really cheaper than living in "luxury" Palaces.

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Sincerely, Lion Kuntz
Santa Rosa, California, USA
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