SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india

SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india

SEEDS has built 80 bamboo houses as part of a community-driven flood response programme in assam, india. the non-profit organisation took up the housing reconstruction initiative in assam after the devastating floods of 2017, working with local organisation NEADS (north-east affected area development society) to design and build the houses. the development was formulated with a vision to build resilient communities through participatory design, illustrating a model of contemporary vernacular architecture.



‘with its tropical-monsoon-rainforest-climate, the valley experiences heavy rainfall and gets flooded almost every year,’ explains SEEDS. ‘this eastern himalayan state also falls under the highest seismic zone of india.


‘vulnerable to natural disasters, the self-reliant assamese communities have developed indigenous construction and planning techniques over the centuries, creating a built-environment exclusive to the terrain. however, due to haphazard development in the region, the traditional knowledge systems are being ignored, leading to an unsafe environment, loss of lives and livelihoods.’

SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india



in an area where the annual phenomenon of flooding and repeated loss due to that perpetuates poverty, environmentally sustainable solutions were discovered in the vernacular architectural typology of stilt houses built in bamboo. a 23-square-meter core house built atop stilts was designed following sphere humanitarian standards for disaster response within the given budget constraint, its’ high stilts helping to cope with the annual flooding while its flexible joinery system allows the homeowners to shift the floor higher in case of overflooding – a unique feature that was adopted from the traditional practice of the region. 



the organisation adopted an owner-driven approach, enabling house owners to have a say in the design and construction. a team of architects worked with local families to come up with a hybrid housing design — one that married modern technology with local traditional architecture.


the layout of the house is simple and multipurpose, supporting the lifestyle of the local community. the stilts are high enough to allow day-to-day activities such as weaving, rearing livestock, and the storage of boats, used during floods or a play space for children, and a semi-open verandah is provided for social interaction, food preparation or basketry as done traditionally by the communities.

SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india



architects and artisans worked together to develop disaster-resilient construction details that could be built using local materials and skills. required changes were made to enhance the conventional construction details such as deeper bamboo footings encased in concrete; stilt bamboo columns waterproofed with a rubberized coating; introduction of cross-bracings and use of indigenous tying techniques with rattan and bamboo dowels to make the structure resistant to lateral forces during floods and earthquakes.



‘community participation in the entire process, from design to execution and use of locally available materials, allowed the homeowners to create their own aesthetics and to expand the houses as per their requirements,’ explains seeds. ‘these houses faced two flooding seasons after construction and successfully survived, demonstrating the relevance of integrating indigenous knowledge with contemporary building technologies, especially in disaster-resilient community architecture.’


‘as practiced in assamese culture, all the neighbours come forward on the last day of the construction to lend a hand in finishing the house by preparing and fixing the bamboo mat walls together. and at the end of the day, the homeowners celebrate the completion of the house by organising a feast for everyone.’

SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india

SEEDS builds community-driven, disaster resilient bamboo housing in india


project info


project name: community driven disaster-resilient bamboo housing architecture
firm: SEEDS (sustainable environment and ecological development society) 
firm location: SEEDS head office, 15a, sector 4, rk puram, new delhi, india
completion year: 2018 gross built area: 23 sqm per house x 80 units
project location: golaghat, assam, india
lead architects: kamal chawla
photo credits: siddharth behl, atul garg, ram singh design team: local artisans, sasank ivs, atul garg, kamal chawla
illustrations: kanchan joneja, depanshu gola
funded by: godrej
engineering: chandra bhakuni
project manager: ram singh implementation
partner: NEADS (north-east affected area development society)

  • Excellent and so good for community !!

    Rajan bhatnagar says:
  • Some suggestions as an engineer on the Structure of the bamboo houses. Look at the cover image. The ground foundation of the building on the ground consists of vertical bamboo. Such rectangular line structures are weak. Triangular sides are strong. Good that there are two triangular edge bamboos on the first floor. Arvind Gupta had shown the strength of triangular structures with match sticks! The bamboo houses should have the structure of the Geodesic Dome (Model 5) in Arvind Guptas Citizen Science Projects ( )

    K Vinod Kumar says:

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