Bombay61, Urbanists
Authors: Ketaki Bhadgaonkar and Jai Bhadgaonkar


HOUSE FOR KALBELIAS : 'The Non-Existent'

Our entry for The Tiny House Competition 2017 (International Competition) organised by Volume Zero won an honorable mention among more than 100 entrants from all parts of the world.  http://volzero.com/result/winners

Map showing the migration of nomadic tribes across the world

Kalbelias are a nomadic tribe of snake charmers known today for their dance of the same name. They are mainly found in the Western state of Rajasthan where over 75,000 of them live today. Like many nomads in India, they experience much discrimination and stigma which is increased by their traditional link to snakes. They often live in poor economic conditions. Being nomads, they do not have access to many government services such as health or education which require a permanent address or house. 

“Not all who wander are lost!” 

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Map showing concentration of Kalbelias in India

Kalbelias are part of the original tribes of nomads which came from Rajasthan before spreading across the world. Throughout the years, many government schemes have tried to make Kalbelias and Indian nomads settle down because of the negative image conveyed about non-sedentarism. 

The tiny house would become their identity and grant them access to these basic services as well as enabling them to keep moving from one place to another to find work, as per their tradition.

Kalbelias are therefore a community which would truly gain from having a movable tiny house. It would answer their needs, give them access to their rights and empower them. 

The aim of designing them a movable tiny house is to raise awareness about this community and to help them preserve their tradition of nomadism.

This movable tiny house does not mean to innovate by transforming the current habits of the Kalbelias. Rather, it is based on their existing traditions and architectural customs, from which derive the innovations. The design is meant to evolve over the years to adapt itself to the changing economic and living conditions of the community and therefore allow them to grow. 

Nowadays, Kalbelias attract many tourists who come from all over India and the world to watch them perform snake charming and the Kalbelia dance or to take dance classes from members of the community. For this reason, it has been considered in this design to accommodate tourists to stay as guests in a tiny house along with the community. This would enable them to watch their shows, take dance classes and teach them other subjects in return, initiating cultural exchanges and further empowering the Kalbelias. 


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