Minimum Cost Housing Group fonds

Minimum Cost Housing Group fonds

Part of


  • McGill University. School of Architecture (architectural society)
  • McGill University. Minimum Cost Housing Group (archive creator)
  • Vikram Bhatt (creator)


Minimum Cost Housing Group fonds

Dates of creation

1947, 1970-2012


  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • 14.48 l.m. of textual records
  • approx. 83 344 photographic material
  • 960 books
  • 563 drawings
  • 315 printing plates
  • 160 serials
  • 41 artefacts
  • 17 panels
  • 11 audiocassettes
  • 8 sketchbooks
  • 2 models
  • 2 5.25 inch floppy disks
  • 1 CD

Scope and Content

The fonds documents the activities of the Minimum Cost Housing Group's research projects on low-cost housing and their publications related to the projects, including the documents presented at the CCA for the exhibition "1973: Sorry, Out of Gas". The archive comprises over 20 publications and theses about low-cost housing, human settlement development in developping countries and energy conservation. The housing research projects publications, the theses and research papers included in the fonds cover the period from the early 1970s to the early 2000. The archive is composed of documents produced predominantly between 1970 to 2011.

The fonds contains mainly textual records, including offices records, working documents, dummies of publications and copies of the publications, theses and research papers. It also contains photographs, predominantly of the projects undertaken by the Minimum Cost Housing Group. The fonds also comprises a few drawings and reprographic copies, samples of the sulphur concrete bricks developed by the group and an important collection of reference material, such as photocopies of publications, slides and urban planning drawings. The material in the fonds also includes the research library of the Minimum Cost Housing Group collected from the early 1970s to the mid-2010s.

Reference Number



The fonds is arranged into four series, including: Housing Research Projects; Theses, Research Papers and Other Publications; Office records and correspondence; Teaching and lectures; and Research Library.

The fonds has two different numbering schemes because the material from the accessions have been processed according to different standards in place at the time. However, some of the numbers of the ealiest accessions have been changed in 2022 for migration purposes.

Biographical notes

The Minimum Cost Housing Group (MCHG) of the McGill University School of Architecture was founded in the early 1970s by Alvaro Ortega, Witold Rybczynski, Samir Ayad, Wajid Ali, and Arthur Acheson, a group of architects and students from McGill University. The group later included Vikram Bhatt, Garo Kevorkin, Bernard Lefebvre and Alex Morse. The Minimum Cost Housing Group consists in an international orientated research unit on human settlement problems mainly in developing countries but also about low-cost housing and energy conservation in wealthy countries.The group is involved in research projects on construction materials, small building components, low-cost sanitation and servicing systems or urban agriculture. In the 1970s, the group undertook a program of publications known as "The Problem is" series related to some of their projects, including Ecol House project (1972), a self-sufficient habitable low-cost house in Montréal, a research project about sulphur concrete for low-cost housing in the mid 1970s, the development of roofgardens in Montréal in 1976 or a research project about a water atomizer devices for water saving in 1978. The Minimum Cost Housing Group was also responsible of the publications of a series of research papers and theses by members of the group and related to low-cost housing, energy saving devices, urban agriculture implementation projects and human settlement development in developping countries.

The Minimum Cost Housing Group was awarded for their international involvment in human settlement as well as their projects were presented in seminars and exhibitions. The Ecol House project was presented at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, in Montréal, for the exhibition "1973: Sorry, Out of Gas" (November 2007 to April 2008), an exhibition about the architectural innovation on the field of sustainable architecture during the 1973 oil crisis.

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • Contact the CCA for copyright information and permission to reproduce (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Vikram Bhatt in 2010 and 2016.

Custodial history

The Minimum Cost Housing Group's records remained in the MCHG custody until their first transfer to the CCA in 2008 in the context of the exhibition "1973: Sorry, Out of Gas", to be formally donated in February 2010 by Vikram Bhatt, member of the Minimum Cost Housing Group. A second addition to the fonds was acquired in June 2016. At that time, the records and other related materials had been kept at Minimum Cost Housing Group offices at McGill University.

Archivist's note

  • The first accesions of the fonds were processed by archivist Catherine Jacob in 2015 who also created the first version of the finding aid. The accession acquired in June 2016 was first inventory during the 2016 summer. The processing of the addition and the creation of the new finding aid was done by Catherine Jacob between January and June 2017.

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:
Minimum Cost Housing Group fonds,
Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
Don de Vikram Bhatt / Gift of Vikram Bhatt.
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material

English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Punjabi

Related units of description

  • Documents related to the CCA exhibition "1973: Sorry, Out of Gas" (November 2007 to April 2008) are available in the CCA institutional archives.

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