Traditionally, architects have contributed little to housing for the Third World urban poor. Those who opt to work for the poor need to rethink their roles; the numbers are overwhelming, the issues complex, and resources very limited. One solution is to use land as a resource to produce housing for the poor, by allowing them access to it to build their homes. A study was conducted of such initiatives, in particular, a case in India: the Aranya Township completed in 1988 and considered a model project. To help determine the project's success, we analyzed the consolidation of homes, the use of open spaces and compared the appropriateness of design to occupants' lifestyles, using video, photographs and drawings.
Land as a Development Tool
In a site and services approach, each family is provided with a small plot and varying levels of services such as: a water tap, storm water drainage, a sewer connection, paved access, street lightening, and so on. The level of servicing varies with the beneficiary’s ability to pay; so the plot may be supplemented with core housing, comprising a latrine and a kitchen or a minimum house and plinth as an additional built-up area.
In post-occupancy evaluation of Aranya, we examined selected design elements by looking at how have they matured, and by studying how well they function from the user’s point of view. The elements chosen are the following: plot layout and dwelling units, cluster level open spaces, neighbourhood level open spaces, street layouts, community level open spaces and landscaping.
Consolidation of homes
Starting with only service cores and the basic infrastructure, people have built their houses in stages, according to their economic resources and the available materials. Houses are built gradually but successfully as homeowners continue to undertake incremental housing construction that matches their own needs and ability to generate resources. In initial stages of development, people used inexpensive materials, but in later stages, people mainly use bricks and reinforced concrete as construction materials, resulting in more solid and permanent structures.
Use of open spaces
Small open spaces play a vital role, especially in a low-income neighbourhood. Such places are used differently, such as: small temple, festival gathering and resting platforms, planting trees, drying clothes, storage place. For large open spaces, people have used some of them as temples, beautiful landscapes, and large gathering site. But unfortunately, a lot of large open spaces have been left empty, and some are even full of waste.
Appropriateness of design to occupants' lifestyles
- Promote person-to-person contact through cluster of human scale.
- Provide an individual character to each other.
- Create functionally sympathetic and aesthetically pleasing street environments.
- Provide spaces for social and religious activities.
- Promote income generation at cluster level.
- Provide all essential amenities and utilities to every street.
- Define clearly each cluster’s territory and the sense of entry.
- Have regard for pedestrian.
- Optimise cluster patterns for economic activities and easy access.