Authors:  Bijay Singh, Dilip Singh, Lea Sabbag

The Sheltering from a Gathering Storm project was undertaken with the aim to improve understanding of the costs and benefits of climate resilient housing and contribute to the transformative change necessary to make communities more resilient to future disasters. The goal is also to influence housing practices among local stakeholders such as masons and individual households, so they start to include design features that would improve housing resilience.

To influence local construction practices, a nation-wide design competition was launched wherein key attributes of a resilient structure in the local context could be showcased. These designs would then be used to disseminate the learning to professionals and communities through interactive workshops and media campaigns. Some of the key attributes of a resilient design include raised plinth, two rooms, ventilated kitchen, safe place inside the house in case of unprecedented floods. A reasonable cost range was determined through community consultations and shared learning dialogues (SLDs). The Resilient Housing Design Competition—hosted in 2013 by GEAG, SEEDs, and ISET-International—created an avenue for innovation in traditional shelter systems. The winning design from the housing competition integrated a number of key features for living with increased flooding levels and temperature extremes.

The competition required each design to include the following: one or two rooms, a kitchen, and a toilet; limit the construction costs up to Rs 500,000; consider climate resilience, environmental sustainability, and the sourcing of local materials and labor; integrate innovative construction technology that meets building codes and bylaws; and make all design considerations for low income households as the target population.

The designs were judged by a panel of three eminent architects and based on the ability to achieve the following requirements: how it addressed flood resilience problem, cost effectiveness, appropriateness of materials and technologies, innovation in concept, and detailing of design and presentation. From the many entries received, one winner was selected from two categories—professionals and students.  The features of the winning entry from the professional category are discussed below to showcase the resilient aspects. 


Singh, B., Singh, D., Sabbag, L. (2014). Resilient Housing Design Competition: Discussion of Resilience Innovations (The Sheltering Series No. 10). Boulder, CO: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International.

Funded by: 

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) Disclaimer: This document is an output from a project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) for the benefit of developing countries. However, the views expressed and information contained in it are not necessarily those of or endorsed by DFID, DGIS or the entities managing the delivery of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, which can accept no responsibility or liability for such views, completeness or accuracy of the information or for any reliance placed on them. 

The Sheltering Series describes the background, policy landscape, methodology and approach used by the Sheltering From a Gathering Storm team and highlights key issues that were discovered and explored during the project in India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Sheltering From a Gathering Storm aims to improve the understanding of the costs and benefits of climate-resilient shelter design, and contribute towards the transformative change necessary to make communities more resilient to future disasters. For more information about the project and other available materials, please see: 

Disclaimer: The Sheltering Series contains preliminary research and findings. These products are disseminated to catalyze discourse on timely issues. Most discussion papers undergo revisions, and some will be published formally in a different format. 


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