The People’s Choice

by Daimen Hardie on April 25, 2016

P. Mahadevan, S. Froz, B. Govind Raj, M. Aravinth Kumar, and P. Mahadevan of Tamilnadu, India - designers of the People's Choice Award winning Brunswick Hickory Cabin.


The People's Choice Award for Community Forests International's 2016 'clear the air' design competition went to four young designers based in Tamilnadu, India.  Out of 62 design entries from around the world theirs received the most online votes from the public. 

I had a chance to catch up with the team, and asked them a few questions about their practice and their views on the future of housing at home and abroad (n.b. I've made minor edits to language for clarity).


The Brunswick Hickory cabin features straw bale construction and local white pine lumber.

You are all in your second year of architecture studies.  Can you tell me what drew you to architecture as a career?

We’re interested in architecture as a career because this occupation can be more about humanity than just a profession.  For example, by using minimal materials and forms from the surroundings, an architect can be environmentally responsible and make designs that are cost effective and sustainable.

What motivated you all to enter the 'clear the air' design competition?

Simply because the competition’s brief dealt with the most crucial threat to our environment.  Also, the criteria motivated us because it involved the process of designing a minimal space.

Your Prime Minister recently announced the 'Housing for All' mission in which the government aims to construct 2 crore (20 million) new houses across India by 2022, mainly to improve living conditions within slums.  Do you have any ideas about how this might be achieved?  What will the houses and slums of the future look like? How will they be designed?

This mission can be achieved.  The traditional cloister form, based on minimalism, sustainability and a serene environment all together offers a cost-effective design.  And it can be scale based on various needs, and offers the aesthetic of social massing.* 

*(n.b. by the term 'massing' they mean the general shape or shapes of a building)

According to the Times of India, "a majority of Indians have per capita space equivalent to or less than a 10 feet x 10 feet room for their living, sleeping, cooking, washing and toilet needs." [1] The average house in Canada is 20 times larger!  What do you think the ideal size of a home is?  Are Canadian homes too big?

Well, our answer would be yes.  In the case of Canada, home sizes are larger than ideal. Minimalism maybe is not considered in Canada because of the economy, population and traditional aspects - which don’t force people in Canada to make due with limited space.  Whereas we Indians have the mindset and need to make due with our limited individual space.

We think the ideal size of a home – which can be adopted here and in Canada - is 15' x 20'.


To view all the shelter designs submitted for this competition, check out the clear the air gallery.  To help build the winning design and to watch a video featuring our backwoods location please visit our Backwoods Cabin of the Future campaign page.



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