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A look into the Indian Context

The Housing Paradox

The housing shortage is an issue the country has been facing for a long period of time. The problem is more evident in the design of the urban sector rather than the rural sector. Housing and the residential sector is vital for the socio-economic development of the country. A gradual decline of the housing shortage is a scene in rural India.

A major scheme launched by the Government of India in June 2015 was the Affordable housing by 2022, that is construction of 20 million houses for the urban poor by the year 2022. The focus of the initiative was providing affordable housing to the economically weaker sections in the urban areas. Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri was Yojana aims at facilitating the same in both scenarios.

As per the  Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, a total assessed demand of 1.12 crore houses is present, with 1.14 crore houses sanctioned under the scheme as well as  9.15 lakh are grounded for construction. (statistics as per budget 2022)

  • Light House Design Initiative

The Lighthouse design initiative under the Global Housing Technology Challenge India in the housing design sector has been implemented in about 6 states:

1.   Agartala (Tripura)

2.   Ranchi (Jharkhand) 

3.   Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) 

4.   Indore (Madhya Pradesh) 

5.   Rajkot (Gujarat) 

6.   Chennai (Tamil Nadu)

The idea is to promote sustainable housing design considering the local climate, ecology and built environment, with the use of special construction techniques. Modern practices from Canada, Germany France etc are put into practice to achieve smart designs:

Indore: Construction absent of brick and mortar walls instead of prefabricated sandwich panels systems are used.

Rajkot: Usage of monolithic concrete from France which safeguards building from natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Lucknow: Absent use of plaster and paint.Usage of technology and design from Canada.

Agartala: Steel Frame Structure and technology from New Zealand

Chennai: Pre Cast Concrete System from Finland and America.

Ranchi-3 D construction technology sourced from Germany.

  • Government Initiatives for Housing Design Projects

Amendments, Real estate investment Trusts (REITs) or Infrastructure Investment Trusts

Benami Transaction Prohibition Act 2016 

Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill – January 2014

Pradhan MantriAwasYojana – Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme

Key to a Good Housing Design

Planning Smart Housing Designs (Source: The Architects Diary)

  • Smart Design: Availability of space for social and business gatherings, like a community hall or a multipurpose hall.Incorporation of facilities such as multi-level vehicle parking,vehicle-free plazas. Such spaces are conceptualised at the project planning stage of the housing design.
  • Site and Context: It is essential that such housing projects are situated in areas where there is convenient access to services and amenities (employment venues, health care, grocery, education institutions etc). The inclusion of such features enhances the housing design plan. The immediate built environment of the selected site has an important impact on the project. Context includes both built as well as unbuilt aspects such as (green spaces, neighbourhoods) of the surrounding. It also includes constraining elements such as political and cultural setting and their influence on the stakeholders.
  • Circulation and Landscaping: It is necessary to provide effective site circulation and safety of occupants by designating driveways for vehicular movement and pedestrian pathways. Circulation is designed in 3 ways:
  • Courtyard type: In this typology residents are required to circulate around a central courtyard, to reach their dwellings. However, an inward focus is created, which secludes the city and its inward streets. Long stretches of courtyards tend to disrupt the housing design.
  • Tower Type: On contrary to the courtyard type the project utilises green space to separate structures from the city context and each other.Though the towers only seldom offer amenities that people require.
  • Slab Type: This housing design model is a combination of the courtyard and tower types where the development is physically distant from the city. The design layout offers more internal circulation space than other projects.

Case Study of Mumbai

The major problem in Mumbai is the growth of squatter settlements known in India as SLUMS. These slums come with many issues for people including the lack of planned access to clean water and sanitation systems, poor health, lack of education, unemployment and the prospect of crime. At the edge of Dharavi, the newest arrivals come to make their homes on wasteland next to water pipes in slum areas. They set up homes illegally amongst waste on land that is not suitable for habitation. In the wet monsoon season, these people have huge problems living on this low lying marginal land.

Many people have poor jobs, such as those who work to sift the rubbish in the tips where children and women sift through the rubbish for valuable waste. They have to work under the hot sun in appalling conditions.

Many architects and planners claim this slum could hold the solution for many of the problems of the world’s largest cities. There are more than 22 million vehicles registered in Mumbai and these contribute to both noise and air pollution, as well as lots of lost hours as people sit in traffic jams. This is despite Mumbai’s renowned train system.

Life expectancies in the squatter settlements are low because of these conditions, poor quality water, mosquitoes that thrive in nearby mangrove swamps and dangerous jobs.


Housing Design Projects in India

  • Aranya Community Housing, Indore, India

Aranya Housing Project by BV Doshi 

Aranya housing is designed by Architect Balkrishna V. Doshi. This housing settlement is 6 km from the city centre. Aranya Housing spreads in 85 hectares with 6500 houses for 60,000 people, was completed in 1989 with 1, 00,000 square metres of built-up areas. The concept of design is to facilitate social interaction. There are six sectors connected by a central spine. Toilets, water connections, drainage systems are provided in each house.

 An open staircase is provided along. This innovative sites-and-services project is remarkable for its effort to unite families within a range of poor-to-decent incomes. The bright colour façades show the colours of India. Ar. B.V. Doshi was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1996 for Aranya Housing.

  • Incremental Housing, Belapur, Navi Mumbai, India

Incremental Housing by Charles Correa 

Architect Charles Correa designed a perfect solution for affordable housing in Mumbai just 2 km from the city centre. Housing is developed in 5.4 hectares for 550 families. Completed in 1986, housing is designed in clusters of seven houses grouped together by an 8×8 meter courtyard with no single sharing-wall in housing. A well-planned hierarchy of interlocking and open to sky spaces provides a smart and affordable housing solution with all amenities that everyone can afford.

  • CIDCO Housing, Parsik Hill, Belapur, India

CIDCO Housing by Raj Rewal 

CIDCO housing, at Parsik Hill, is designed by Architect Raj Rewal. This housing settlement of 9 hectares with 1000 units was developed in 1998. Because of the topography of the site, every block has a different shape and size. One and two-room units are designed in 20 to 100 sq.m area. A network of courtyards creates the desired micro-climate in housing. Roughcast plaster and handmaid tiles are cost-effective solutions with stone walls at ground level and honeycomb lattice on the roof for privacy.

  • Tara Housing, Delhi, India

Tara Housing by Charles Correa 

Tara housing designed by Architect Charles Correa was constructed in 1978. Tara Housing is developed in 1.48 hectares, housing more than 125 units for middle-class families. Two and three-bedroom apartments are planned around a central courtyard, creating an attractive inner environment. Only pedestrian entries are allowed on the premises.

Parking lots are at the back of the housing. Every house has its own open terrace garden. The hanging portion creates barriers from the sun, thereby creating shaded areas.

  • Chengalchoola Housing, Trivandrum, India

Chengalchoola housing is designed by Architect Laurie Baker, who is also known as the architect of the poor. This housing design is for the Kerala Housing State Board with over 700 dwelling units for lower-income groups.

Chengalchoola Housing has a proper internal road, drainage, and water supply network, providing every house with basic amenities. The main attraction of this housing is exposed brick walls which are cost-effective and energy-efficient.

Today, affordable housing seeks to do more than simply create decent spaces for living. Instead, new affordable housing models incorporate sustainable features that reduce the cost of construction maintenance, technologies that help empower residents and connect them to outside resources, and greater reverence for human scale and connection to the street 

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