The Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies in Thiruvananthapuram has been set up to propagate the philosophy and legacy of late the Dr. Laurence Wilfred Baker (affectionately called Laurie Baker), the Master Architect, who charted a cost-effective, environment-friendly and local resource-based alternative to building construction in India.
Laurie Baker, who made Kerala his home in early 1960s, had worked extensively on developing an alternative culture of design and building construction. He helped build a very large number of private buildings, public institutions as well as housing colonies for the poor under government schemes. Along with the late Shri C. Achutha Menon, a renowned political leader and former Chief Minister of Kerala and the late Professor K.N. Raj, the renowned economist and founder of the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Laurie Baker established the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD for short) to widen his activities in the area of cost-effective building construction. Laurie Baker was basically a humanist who was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi whom he met in the early 1940s in Bombay (now Mumbai). He put his varied talents to public service to improve the lot of the common man. He was a cartoonist, a writer and an environmentalist.
Upon the passing away of Laurie Baker in 2007, members of the COSTFORD family as well as his admirers floated and deliberated on the idea of giving shape to an institution that will engage in training, research, development and dissemination in the area of alternative and people-friendly architecture and building construction, alternative sources of energy, waste management, sanitation and such related areas as can be subsumed under the heading of Green Habitat, a concept which found expression in the life and work of Laurie Baker in various ways. Since COSTFORD was mainly engaged in the actual design and construction of cost-effective and eco-friendly buildings (both in the public and private sectors), it was thought important to have an institution solely devoted to education and research. It is with this aim that a number of eminent personalities who worked and/or interacted very closely with Laurie Baker came together and decided to register an institution called “Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies”, his life partner, as chairperson.
Thus, with active support from COSTFORD, the Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies (henceforth LBC) was established as a Society, registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act XII of 1955 at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on 14 January 2009.
The centre aims at dissemination and development of an alternative paradigm for architecture and building construction, as part of an overall framework for moving towards a green habitat. Some of the main objectives are given below.
Conduct and encourage research and development including action research, technology and policy studies; especially on the principles practiced by Laurie Baker.
Launch and run capacity building initiatives for private sector as well as Government and Local Governments.
Develop and implement projects directly or in association with organizations and institutions having similar objectives or on behalf of Government and Local Governments.
Provide expert support to individuals, institutions and agencies, particularly Government and Local Government.
Carry out advocacy and develop platforms to promote the aims and objectives in its focus areas.
Carry out information, education and communication activities including documentation, publication and dissemination.