The challenge of changing mindsets: The DHS experience
Vyas Yengkhom writes about the human tendency to accept and the challenge of questioning what has become the norm. Vyas is an architect and has been with mHS since its inception.
“The events of human life, whether public or private, are so intimately linked to architecture that most observers can reconstruct nations or individuals in all the truth of their habits from the remains of their monuments or from their domestic relics”. – Honore de Balzac
“With no common sense, there can, not be a society” – Vyas Yengkhom
I had no idea what my journey of life as an architect would be like when it began. I’d like to believe that architecture as a profession is a life full of surprises. The study and practise of architecture has changed the way I think and the way I live; encouraged me to observe critically and dream of the impossible….. and I was fortunate I found an unusual place to start my professional journey in micro Home Solutions.
My work in mHS has instilled in me the concept of being multi and inter disciplinary. I have been here for about two and a half years and it still intrigues me how, as we continue to live in society, we get used to everything around us till it is hard to pin-point and say, “Hey that’s wrong, that’s bad etc…” even if you know it is wrong. From my experience on the field working with mHS, I have realised that the most convincing thing anyone could say is, “Whoa! What’s the problem? Everything has been this way and it can go on!”.
One of my favorite mHS’s projects in this context is DHS- Design Home Solutions, which works to influence people to change precisely this line of thinking in which we accept whatever is the norm without questioning it. DHS targets with homeowners in low-income settlements who are building their homes incrementally. Currently, self-construction in India’s low-income settlements is done by a local mason and safety and quality of life are severely compromised. DHS is designed to help homeowners access finance to rebuild fresh homes while simultaneously offering them technical assistance to design and build a better and safer home.
I worked on the DHS pilot project in Mangolpuri in Delhi from start to finish. The experience has been great but the influencing bit is the real challenge. It will probably take many years to win over mindsets of people and bring about improvements in poor construction practices we see right now. Also DHS, with its organic nature, is a tough concept to manoeuvre around.
We have our fingers crossed and we are hoping to see more DHS projects coming up on the ground. I will leave you with some illustrations.