Published: 10th March 2021
From an open-air lounge to a bathtub: This young TN architect's auto-rickshaw house has it all
Arun Prabhu NG's house atop an auto-rickshaw is called SOLO: 01 and is designed on the concept of temporary housing. We find out more
Remember the iconic scene in Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades, where Shahrukh Khan, steering a caravan that almost fit his entire house inside of it, is humming happily to the song Yuhin Chala Chal Rahi? Don't tell me you have never dreamt of owning or travelling in something similar. We all have. However, this architect hailing from the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu went a step ahead in innovating something of more value — a compact portable/detachable housing at the back of an auto-rickshaw that can accommodate a single person like an artist, a traveller, a homeless person or even a small scale vendor. Arun Prabhu NG's (24) house atop an auto-rickshaw is called SOLO: 01 and is designed on the concept of temporary housing.
Built with just over Rs 1 lakh, the house is one BHK and can easily accommodate two people. With solar panels, a water tank, batteries, cupboards, doors, a staircase, a toilet, a lounge area and even a workspace, this versatile and compact house is quite a unique creation. "The idea is to promote temporary housing and how it is relevant in India currently. I had been doing research on slum housing, how such small and crowded spaces have houses. My research also included how nomadic tribes travel and stay. They are always in transition, some kind of movement is always there in their lives. They have the capability to pack all their belongings in a very small space and travel with that. I combined these two aspects — spacial management and utilisation, and constant movement by nomads — to create a modular structure while providing all the amenities that a house or residence should have," says Arun explaining what gave birth to the idea. There is also a major lack of awareness about temporary housing or even the fact that such small spaces can be utilised to their maximum capacity, Arun tells us. "If the planning is done properly, we can easily find space for everything. My aim is to create awareness on how to constantly improve the way of life of people around us without space or budget as major constraints," he adds.
Why an auto-rickshaw?
Arun says that it is a vehicle with the least space available in India right now. Also, it's affordable and very easily available. Currently, the structure is fixed with just six bolts to the auto-rickshaw, which can be easily unscrewed and kept at a specific site for a period of time or can be fixed atop any other vehicle you want. "The unit can be transferred to any other vehicle, if an auto can withstand the weight of the structure then larger vehicles can definitely carry the weight too. This detachable feature makes the structure more efficient for various circumstances. This unit or housing can be utilised as temporary options for people like construction labourers, who work in a particular site for a few years or for a few months only, nomadic tribes, etc., and as emergency housing during any kind of natural calamities," adds Arun.
The structure is mostly made of mild steel, aluminium, refurbished metal scraps and is 6x6 feet in size, which is easily habitable. Due to the usage of such materials, the cost can be cut down drastically, adds the architect. Apart from having a kitchen, a toilet with a bathtub, foyer, living and sleeping space, the workspace is created on a mezzanine level at 3.5ft height. Additionally, there is a solar panel (600W), water tank (250 ltr) and a lounge space equipped with a shade on a terrace. "It took me around 5-6 months to create the entire structure. We made a lot of prototypes, at least 10 or 12 before we finalised on this one," shares Arun. The structure has numerous windows and openings that make it properly ventilated throughout. "The design is also built to tackle several constraints like topography, material and aesthetics. We are also working on better models, this completely concentrates on the spatial planning," he adds.
Arun's unique design has been recognised by Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group when he posted the architect's work on Twitter. "This kind of recognition encourages architects like us to do more for society. It also brings in more visibility to the project when recognised by a stalwart like him," concludes Arun.