An Inspiring New Housing Strategy for the Slums of India

| 8/24/2009 8:14:37 AM

Incremental Housing Strategy in the Slums of India

Two young architects are taking a novel approach to housing in one Indian slum: They’re working with the community to improve its houses gradually and organically, based on design input and support from the people who live there.

This may not sound radical, but it is, reports Canadian architecture and design magazine Azure (article not available online). The magazine spotlights Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson, whose incremental housing strategy is quite a departure from most slum “improvement” projects. “Upgrading a slum usually means tearing everything down and building housing blocks,” Göransson told Azure. “We wanted to improve their living conditions and allow them to keep their neighbors and social networks.”

Göransson and Balestra are working with architects and nonprofits in India to roll out the project in Netaji Nagar, a neighborhood within a large inner-city slum in the city of Pune. After a series of community workshops (pictured below), they settled on three different house prototypes, all of which are easy for families to expand or change in the future. One of the prototypes leaves a “void” on the ground floor, so that the space can be easily used as a shop, to house livestock, or store a rickshaw.

Construction is scheduled to begin after the monsoon season, probably sometime in September. Read all about the project on Göransson and Balestra’s website, which houses tons of fascinating details and beautiful photos, illustrations, and maps.

“The poor really need architecture, but they cannot pay,” Balestra told Azure. “We want to contribute.”

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