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The Self-made Dwelling
Dharavi, India
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architecture without architects

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Category:
urban planning
Phase:
in use
Design:
by people themselves
Updated:
15 May 2014
introduction

Perhaps informal settlement is the phenomenon that most challenges the role of architects. Informal settlement is hip. Slum, favelas, barrios, townships, geçekondus, all are hip. Prestigious universities organize fieldtrips for their students. Urbanists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, and many others write about these habitats that developed without planning or top-down policies. And still these areas thrive and host many people.

What no architect could ever design.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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cultural and social context

Slum develops during high urbanization. The influx of labour from the countryside to the city goes far beyond the housing and absorption capacity of the city. Industrialization is a powerful driver of urbanization. During the industrial revolution, many slums emerged in Western cities. In factory towns, people lived in high density under miserable conditions. This side effect of the industrial revolution was overcome by introducing legislation that set conditions on the quality of housing. In addition, many manufacturers took the initiative to organize a good home for their employees.

Shop space was extended at the first floor into the alleyway.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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materials and building techniques

Active seeing is a method by which we can easily access the architecture of informal settlement. The example below deals with how to connect with the upper floor. Note that many solutions are covering multiple needs and that there is little use in making “scientific” analyses by means of deconstructing a case into segregated concepts. Let’s forget about such an approach, have a down-to-earth look, and rely on common sense.

Photo 1. Multi family dwelling. Upstairs has an independent entrance.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 2. Shop houses. First floor front doors are accessible by ladders.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 3. Shop houses without front doors, access to top floor through a hatch.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 4. A ladder giving access to the upper floor through a hatch.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 5. Chawl with ladder and floor hatch.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 6. Chawls are recognizable by the series. In their terrace houses like setting, they distinguish clearly from slum.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 7. Colossal stone steps.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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Photo 8. Three houses showing three different outcrops of the upper floor.

image: Sytse de Maat | © all rights reserved
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image gallery
Dharavi impression-1

image: Akshay Mahajan | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Dharavi impression-2

image: Akshay Mahajan | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Dharavi impression-3

image: Akshay Mahajan | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Dharavi impression-4

image: Akshay Mahajan | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Dharavi impression-5

image: Akshay Mahajan | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Shot from the Sion-Mahim bridge looking over Dharavi

image: Meena Kadri | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Housing and recycling units at Dharavi, flanked by a mosque. (one of 11 in the area)

image: Meena Kadri | CC-BY-NC-ND_black.png some rights reserved
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Location
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Keyword:
urban (33)
informal settlement (61)
craftsmanship (25)
hands-on (39)
local resources (88)
recycled recources (47)
reuse building (21)
traditional human settlement (9)
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