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A utlitarian look at cheap housing

LOW-COST HOUSING IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES G C Mathur Publisher: Centre for Science & Technology of the Non-aligned and Other Developing Countries Price: Not stated

Published: Friday 15 October 1993

Low-cost or low-quality? Low-Cost Housing in Developing Countries is a simple, utilitarian and extremely readable book. There is little new in the discussions on appropriate technology, which includes discussions on the economic constraints of the developing world, setting up of housing research priorities, and a well-written section on South-South cooperation in housing.

Notwithstanding the technical nature of the subject, the book is a good attempt at simplifying technical aspects of low-cost housing and, considering the fundamental nature of the housing problem, suits the requirements of the generalist rather than the specialist.

Mathur argues that the relevance of low-cost housing has to be seen in the context of a number of socioeconomic factors. However, because low costs should not imply low quality, a variety of inputs that call for multidisciplinary action are required.

However, the book does not explain why low-cost housing has not been so successful. It also does not explain how one can even talk of minimum technical inputs in countries where the building methods used are traditional. Another question that remains unanswered is how does one sell a low-cost house? Despite housing costs rising sharply, there are few takers for low-cost houses.

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