4th Holcim Forum in Mumbai, India 2013: Blue Workshop group.
4th Holcim Forum in Mumbai, India 2013: Blue Mobile workshop - Retained diversity: The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) is an NGO working to secure housing and infrastructure issues for the urban poor. SPARC began work in Mumbai’s pavement slums, where they formed a network of women’s collectives called Mahila Milan (“Women Together”) & entered a partnership with the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF).
Retained diversity: Dharavi – The architecture is a mosaic of housing typologies - tiny shanties, dense tenements and concrete buildings. Dharavi is a haven of work and affordable housing to its residents.
4th Holcim Forum in Mumbai, India 2013: Blue Mobile workshop - Retained diversity: Dharavi – This informal settlement is also significantly productive with home based enterprises and industrial workshops engaged in manufacturing, service and food sectors.
4th Holcim Forum in Mumbai, India 2013: Blue Mobile workshop - Retained diversity: Dharavi – Located on prime land in the centre of Mumbai, Dharavi is spread over 400 hectares.
4th Holcim Forum in Mumbai, India 2013: Blue Workshop group.
Workshop findings presented by Sarah Graham.
Focusing on informal settlements and their tradition of combined living/working spaces, this workshop investigated the different economic, legal, planning, and cultural conditions affecting these settlements.
Moderator: Hans-Rudolf Schalcher; Reporter: Sarah Graham
Symposium experts: Uday Athavankar, Sheela Patel, Gustavo Restrepo, Michael Sorkin and Zhang Yue
March 04, 2014 | Blue Workshop Report – Foundations 15
Retained diversity – Maintaining strengths while upgrading informal habitats
Nearly every metropolis in the world has districts that developed spontaneously and grow rapidly. These typically poor neighborhoods often grow into independent communities with their own network and elude the formal city planning process. Improving the standard of living for the residents of such districts is a difficult undertaking – especially when trying to preserve the valuable social structures in these communities.
The central question of the workshop led by Hans-Rudolf Schalcher, member of the Board and former Head of the Academic Committee of the Holcim Foundation, was: How can the standard of living in such settlements be improved, without destroying the strengths and identity of the community?
To answer this question, a discussion was held amongst experts including Architecture Professor Michael Sorkin (The City College of New York, USA), SPARC Founding Director Sheela Patel (Mumbai, India), and Gustavo Restrepo, winner of the Holcim Awards Gold 2008 Latin America (Medellín, Colombia) – covering topics such as urban growth and dynamics, everyday life of poor city dwellers, and conflicts between planned and spontaneous growth.
In his vivid presentation, Uday Athavankar, Emeritus Fellow of the IIT Bombay, pointed out that there is no general recipe; rather, one must always ask the question: Is this or another approach applicable to this specific case? Athavankar presented two entirely different approaches in Mumbai: the upgrading of existing informal settlements and the creation of higher-quality replacement buildings. Both approaches have certain advantages and disadvantages, and neither is applicable everywhere.
“We came to the conclusion that slums are the product of failed policies, of bad governance, of corruption, of inappropriate regulation, dysfunctional land markets, irresponsible financial systems, and a fundamental lack of political will,” said American architect Sarah Graham in her summary presentation of the workshop findings.
Each case must be considered and solved for itself – because no slum is like any other, not even within the same city. Thus, for example, the densely developed residential towers of the SPARC project in Mumbai are “an enormous upgrade,” whereas the case of Dharavi is different: “We were all impressed about the level of common sense and self-sufficiency there,” said Graham, “and the conclusion of all this must probably be: Upgrading informal habitats sustainably is about allowing a maximum number of people to have a future that makes sense by improving social, economic, and environmental conditions.”
Led by Indian architects and urban planners Keya Kunte and Ameya Athavankar, the Blue Mobile Workshop took the participants first to the SPARC resettlement site in Mankhurd. The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) plans and realizes habitats and infrastructure for the very poor. The new multi-story residential buildings that the NGO has built in Mankhurd are simple but very practical – and are prized by their residents, as one immediately feels when talking with them.
A visit to Dharavi followed. Dharavi is perhaps the most famous informal settlement in India and one of the largest in Asia: Here one million people live on two square kilometers of land. This neighborhood grew organically and today is in the middle of the city, as Mumbai has grown around it. Dharavi is notable for its diversity and well-functioning network. Much work takes place here; even in the smallest shacks one finds tiny factories or businesses – and an enormous spectrum of forms and quality of housing.See more
April 13, 2013 | Workshop Conclusion
Each workshop had a reporter whose task it was to extract the findings and conclusions of the discussions. These were then presented to the plenum in order for participants of other workshops to gain insights to different aspects of "Economy of sustainable construction".
April 13, 2013 | BLUE WORKSHOP PART 2
Experts and participants continue to collaborate.Zhang Yue, China: A Comprehensive Planning Model for Rural Settlements: Shunyi Project of China as a Case (PDF, 872.16 KB) »Gustavo Restrepo, Colombia: Urban Social Sustainability: Medellin, a case of community work (PDF, 731.01 KB) »Uday Athavankar, India: Think bottom-up: Can you use that in Mumbai slum upgrade? (PDF, 267.10 KB) »
April 12, 2013 | Blue Mobile Workshop
This workshop will investigate the different economic, legal, planning, and cultural conditions affecting informal settlements and their traditions of combined living/working spaces.
SPARC resettlement site
The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) is an NGO working to secure housing and infrastructure issues for the urban poor. SPARC began work in Mumbai’s pavement slums, where they formed a network of women’s collectives called Mahila Milan (“Women Together”) and then entered into a partnership with the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF). The site at Mankhurd is a Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) township that provides permanent residences for low-income inhabitants, including homes for former slum dwellers.
SPARC has successfully assisted two separate groups: pavement slum dwellers and railway slum dwellers, to organize themselves and demonstrate their right to MHADA housing. This site will allow participants to meet and discuss issues facing the urban poor, to have first-hand feedback from former slum dwellers, and to see the living conditions in two architecturally different housing types.
Located on prime land in the centre of Mumbai, Dharavi is spread over 400 hectares. Home to over one million inhabitants, it is flanked by railway lines, a mangrove, canal and busy roads. This informal settlement is also significantly productive with home based enterprises and industrial workshops engaged in manufacturing, service and food sectors. Many of these units demonstrate amazing efficiency in the business of recycling. The architecture is a mosaic of housing typologies - tiny shanties, dense tenements and concrete buildings.
Dharavi is a haven of work and affordable housing to its residents. “Be the Local”, a group organised and run by local university students who are themselves residents in Dharavi, will conduct the tours with focus on living and working in this informal area. Workshop participants will experience the diversity of people and architecture, and witness the diversity of this self-sustaining economy that houses thriving commerce, services, and industries.
Mobile Workshop Facilitators: Ameya Athavankar and Keya KunteSee more
April 11, 2013 | BLUE WORKSHOP PART 1
Experts and participants start to collaborate on the topic of the workshop.Michael Sorkin, USA: Informal Formality (PDF, 84.33 KB) »Sheela Patel, India: Un-locking the processes and practices of informal settlements (PDF, 894.88 KB) »