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Monday, May 25, 2009

Incremental Housing Strategy

Incremental Housing Strategy in Pune, India by Urbanouveau

Text and images are courtesy Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson of Urbanouveau.

Filipe and Sara were invited to India in 2008 by Jockin Arputham and Sheela Patel from SPARC, one of India’s largest NGOs dealing with housing and infrastructure, to develop a strategy for incremental housing for inner-city slums. It had to be able to be implemented elsewhere and be simple enough to be carried out by the slum dwellers themselves. The project runs counter to previous slum upgrades across the world that have involved the demolition of entire neighborhoods followed by the construction of repetitive social housing blocks or relocation of the communities to places far away from their source of income and friends.

The pilot project began in Netaji Nagar, a slice of a large inner-city slum called Yerawada, located in Pune, 180 km (111 miles) east of Bombay. Netaji Nagar was born when a community was forced to relocate when a hospital was built on the land they occupied. Netaji Nagar is 40 years old. Houses in these urban villages are typically either Kacchas or Puccas. The first refers to the temporary structures built of tin metal sheets and other improvised materials with leaky roofs, no natural lighting or ventilation, and no toilet or water. A typical Kaccha house is around 12 sqm (130 sq ft) with 4-10 people in the household. Puccas are the reinforced concrete and brick houses with a more permanent condition. They normally have a shower, a kitchen and occasionally a toilet. In Netaji there are 106 Kacchas and 109 Puccas.

People without individual toilets use community toilets housed in three-story buildings. People shower every morning on the street, since there is no space at home. The water is heated on a fire made by dry branches or garbage. The government will provide the basic services that are missing such as water, sewage, storm water drainage and electricity, prior to the construction of the houses. The aim of the government is to upgrade slums in order to accept them as permanent neighborhoods. In Pune alone 4,000 families will benefit from this scheme born partly out of negotiations and collaborations between the government and SPARC with Mahila Milan, a community based savings network driven by poor women living in slums.

The proposal is a result of intense workshops with the community where ideas are presented and debated using tools such as house models and drawings. As well as focusing on the individual houses, the strategy has a holistic approach for upgrading the whole. This includes adjusting existing cluster sizes to allow for more open space and for very narrow lanes to be widened for better flow. Learning from existing typologies, three house prototypes have been developed for the families to choose from. A major aim is to provide structures that can be adapted to individual needs while allowing future expansion. During the construction period people will be relocated to temporary accommodation facilities. After completion of the project, the beneficiaries will receive a certificate for occupancy from the municipal corporation.

Design team: Filipe Balestra, Sara Göransson, Guilherme de Bivar, Martinho Pitta, Remy Turquin, Rafael Balestra & Carolina Cantante

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