Time and again, several natural calamities have wreaked havoc in different parts of the country. However, it is the northeastern belt of the country that seems to have faced the major brunt of these calamities.
This has necessitated house designs to be so made that they can be resilient to disasters. This too is the preparedness of sorts. So, here you will learn about the Assam type house design and why they are so popular and the utility and relevance they have.
The type of materials that are chosen while making Assam type house design is important. Mostly, the choice of materials is lightweight including but not limited to bamboo, Ikra, and even wood.
For those who don’t know, Ikra is a type of reed that is locally available. It is mainly famous for being extra lightweight and very durable. Owing to their lightweight nature, these materials come in handy for withstanding strong earthquakes and the houses don’t fall away very quickly.
However, as technology continues to develop and strong steel-framed structures and multi-storied buildings are coming up, the Assam type house design is dying a slow death. We believe that more and more people need to know the process and design behind these artistic structures that have managed to save so many people since times immemorial.
The Importance Of Assam Type House Design
There were several factors that are considered while making the Assam type house design. The physical factors along with the economic issues and the socio-cultural aspect too are taken into account while making the houses.
The houses these days focus solely on the exteriors and the fashion viewpoint. However, in the bygone days, people paid a lot more emphasis to comfort and the relation with the environment when making houses. The house may not be very pleasing to the eyes, but the designs were practical and blended with the themes of nature.
The need to have a holistic design was way more, earlier compared to today. The old age house designs tell more about the values and acceptance and the grounded approach opted by people rather than the larger-than-life modern lifestyle. If you dissect the design of the Assam type house, you will be able to see the endless effort, time, patience, and success one puts into these buildings. Despite not using any of the modern-day technology, these houses continued to stay unchanged and thereby they stayed true to their traditional value.
The Earthquake Impact
When a severe earthquake rattled Assam back in 2011, houses made with modern technology took a severe beating and they were badly destroyed. However, owing to the use of lightweight materials, the walls of the ikra houses didn’t really fall much. These structures are less likely to break even when they come under enormous pressure.
So, now that we have set the ground for why these houses are important and relevant even in today’s times, let us take a look at some of the possible designs.
The Assam Type House Design Options
As we told, there are different kinds of house designs and we are going to discuss them one by one.
Ikra- The Typical Design
This is by far the most common Assam type house design. Such is its practicality and utility that it is not only found in Assam but in several parts of northeast India.
Here are some of the salient features of this design of the house
- They are usually simple in design and one storied structure
- They make use of materials like wooden planks, Ikra, bamboo, and thatch
- They follow a well-designed structured plan of wooden beams and bamboo columns
- The bamboo is woven into wooden beams. This, in turn, is plastered with the use of mud or cement
- It is the GI sheets that make up the roof of the houses. The roof is well supported by wooden trusses or bamboo
- The roofs are designed to connect the parallel wall
Mostly, it has been seen that no damage to these houses occurred during earthquakes. Their design is done keeping the impact of the earthquake in mind.
Mud- Assam Type House Design
The mud-houses are yet another common design you will see in the northeast regions. The mud used for making the house is made by mixing water with the mix of soil and clay. The right proportion has to be mixed to make the mud suitable for making houses.
Here are the salient features of this design of the house
- The mud house is only 5 to 10 meters long
- The length of these houses ranges from 3 to 5 meters
- They can be 1 or 2 storeyed at max
- Both the roof and the floor shouldn’t exceed 5 meters
- They involve the articulate placing of mud and the roof is so designed that water will not seep inside
Bamboo Type House Design
As the name suggests, in this type of house design, bamboo is the main construction material that is used. Here are the salient features of this type of house
- The key aim behind this design is to combat heavy rains and floods
- The walls of the houses are made using bamboo strips
- The strips are then plastered with mud in an even manner
- They use grass for their roofing system and this is very versatile and can stay intact for a decade before it may have to be replaced
The Chang House Design
Also known as the stilt house, this design is mainly used by tribal people who live in forests or hillsides. Here are the salient features of this design of the house.
- This design of the house is meant to be structured on the stilts
- Owing to their placement, there will be some stairs right at the entrance as the house is made at a slight elevation
- These houses are meant for large families
- They have been made to offer protection from floods and heavy rainfall
- These houses apart from having practical designs also have religious and social beliefs attached to it
So, these are the common Assam type house designs that are practical, traditional, and reap several benefits as well.
The Merits Of The Use Of Light-Weight Materials
As we are aware of the fact that lightweight material is used for making the Assam type house design, here are some of the obvious advantages that such houses have.
- Low Cost: Owing to the easy and abundant availability of the raw materials, these houses don’t have massive construction costs, unlike modern-day houses that can get downright expensive.
- Flexibility: As the materials used are light in weight, the connections of the house are flexible and they are very rigid. This gives great performance and they are less prone to damage too.
- Temperature Control: Also, it has been seen that owing to the use of these materials, the house tends to remain cool even during summer. At the same time, it stays warm and cosy during winters.
- It also won’t entail a lot of labour cost because the houses are very easy to make and therefore both time and effort entailed will be quite less.
- Protection from calamities: The house materials along with the design are such that these structures are less likely to be impacted by different types of natural calamities.
So, these are some of the benefits that these Assam type house designs seem to have. There is no denying the fact that these designs despite being old are full of utility and practicality.
Is Assam type house design relevant even today?
Yes, Assam type house designs enjoy relevance even in today’s times and they can be found in a lot of homes in northeast India
Can these designs weather floods and earthquakes?
Yes, most of these designs are so made that they can withstand heavy rains, floods, and even earthquakes.
Which Assam type house design is the most common?
Ikra is perhaps the most common design. Apart from this, bamboo, mudhouse, and even chang styles are common.
What are the roofs made of in these types of houses?
Most of these houses come with a slanting roof. The main reason behind this design is that rainwater will not accumulate on the terrace but fall off the slant. This prevents unwanted leakage from the ceiling.
Can Assam type design houses be multi-storied?
Owing to the simple nature of these homes, they are usually one-storeyed. The maximum number of floors they can have is two and this is exactly what makes them sturdy and resilient to damage caused by floods and earthquakes.
Why are the houses made with stilts?
The presence of stilts ensures that the houses will be lifted from the ground level. This is a core design factor because parts of Assam are prone to very heavy rainfall. Owing to the elevation, the houses don’t get flooded very often.
Is it expensive to make such houses?
No, as the materials are locally available and that too in abundance, the cost of construction is often low. Further, it doesn’t take a lot of labour and time and therefore the labour overhead is very low too. Overall, the houses despite being practical can be made for less.
Are these houses found only in Assam?
No, some of these house designs are so widely popular that they can be found in several rural parts of India as well.