May 29, 2013

Report from the Field: Ahmedabad, India

One of the first precast concrete panels delivered to site for constructing a prototype of Ideal Choice Homes in Ahmedabad, India.

KieranTimberlake Research Group Director Billie Faircloth and Fabrication Studio Manager Peter Curry went to Ahmedabad recently to conduct a site visit and workshop with the goal of building a full bay prototype of the Ideal Choice Homes structural system.

Over the three-day workshop, the scope, specifications, evaluation criteria, and construction management plan for the prototype were developed under intense coordination with local design, engineering, and fabrication partners.

The project site, being prepared for a built prototype of Ideal Choice Homes, in Ahmedabad, India. The site is currently an open lot with the exception of worker housing that is visible on the right. In the distance is a residential housing complex.

Concrete design, quality assurance, and evaluation methods were among the topics of discussion, and much time was devoted to vetting the detailing of doors, windows, infill panels, and connections. Typically in India, such components are not prefabricated—the normative practice for fabricating windows and doors is to template the building after construction and make everything to fit.  
Also informing the detailing of the infill components are the fabrication and erection tolerances for the precast concrete panels. Because Ideal Choice Homes is a modular construction system that is set up on a grid, it demands more precise tolerances. In the workshop, a plan was initiated to determine the tolerances for Ideal Choice Homes and what can be expected given the available fabrication technologies and construction methods. 
Part of the work session involved a site visit to review several precast panels that had been transported to Ahmedabad from their point of manufacture in Pune, India. One of the goals of the prototype is to test different concrete mixes and panel thicknesses with the intention of making the system easier to install.

Ideal Choice Homes panels on site. These panels are a standard concrete mix, and they measure 2.375 inches thick. The C-shaped panel in the center is the primary formwork for pouring the structural concrete columns.

Precast, “indented” infill panel and roof panel. The infill panel is part of the column assembly and fits inside the C-panels to create a closed formwork in which structural concrete is poured.

The visit included a tour of housing communities developed by a local partner in order to learn about current Indian construction methods, materials, and housing conventions.

One of several large communities within the complex.

The Ahmedabad workshop successfully set in motion a series of action items to maximize what can be learned from building the first prototype. A team from KieranTimberlake will return to the site during construction to evaluate and document the process.