Resilient “Khudi Bari” Houses Provide Hope Against Bangladesh’s Rising Flood Threat

Fri Dec 29 2023
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DHAKA: In Bangladesh, where the looming threat of climate change exacerbates the risk of flooding, an innovative solution has emerged to address the challenges faced by vulnerable communities.

Award-winning architect Marina Tabassum has devised the “Khudi Bari” or “tiny house,” a resilient two-floor housing concept that stands on bamboo stilts, enabling it to rise above floodwaters.

This ingenious design not only provides a secure refuge during floods but is also easily movable to safer locations when necessary. Abu Sayeed, a 40-year-old farmer, experienced the effectiveness of Khudi Bari during this year’s monsoon floods when he could stay in his home by simply ascending a ladder.

Living in Bangladesh’s expansive river floodplains due to fertile soil for agriculture, millions face the constant threat of displacement during floods. Bangladesh is ranked as the seventh most vulnerable country to extreme weather events induced by climate change. Relocating such a vast population to higher ground is a formidable challenge. The Khudi Bari addresses this issue by offering a practical and affordable solution to those in need.

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Tabassum’s design, which combines bamboo poles and metal sheeting, prioritizes the use of locally available materials to keep costs low. The Khudi Bari has a mobile modular system, making it easy to assemble and disassemble. The cost of constructing each house, including labor, is approximately $450. The architect, renowned for her previous works, including the Bait-ur-Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, has tested prototype shelters against flash flooding and storm winds to ensure their resilience.

Most Khudi Bari owners utilize their own solar panels, further promoting sustainability. These tiny houses, each standing at four meters high with two floors, cover an area of 100 square feet per floor. The adaptability of the design allows residents to withstand rising floodwaters by retreating to the upper floor and using gas or firewood for cooking.

The Khudi Bari initiative is not confined to individual homes; Tabassum has also employed the model to construct a larger community center for Rohingya refugee women in Bangladeshi camps. The success and popularity of this raised wooden home design reflect its environmental friendliness, easy relocation, and resistance to floods. Mohammad Jashim, who sells similar flat-pack wood homes in Munshiganj, notes their widespread acceptance and effectiveness.

In a country where fleeing homes during floods is a recurrent experience, the Khudi Bari stands as a beacon of hope, offering resilience and adaptability to communities grappling with the impacts of climate change. Through sustainable architecture, Marina Tabassum’s innovative approach demonstrates the potential to address the pressing challenges posed by environmental threats while providing secure and movable shelter options for vulnerable populations.

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