Incremental housing strategy

Incremental housing for inner-city slums


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IN India

In development

About the project Edit

The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), one of India’s largest NGOs dealing with housing and infrastructure for the urban poor, with the help of an international group of architects led by Filipe Balestra and Sara Göransson, developed a strategy for incremental housing for inner-city slums. The idea was that it had to be able to be implemented elsewhere and be simple enough to be carried out by the slum dwellers themselves. Developed in Bombay, India, the Incremental Housing Strategy is intended to allow districts to improve organically without uprooting communities. Organic patterns that have evolved during time are preserved and existing social networks are respected.The aim of this precedent-setting model of community participation in housing design and slum upgrading is to create housing superstructures which families could then add onto and customize as their needs change.

The pilot project began in Netaji Nagar, a slice of a large inner-city slum called Yerawada, located in Pune, 180 km East of Bombay. There, a network of poor women's collectives known as Mahila Milan ("Women Together") – one of the two people’s movement supported by SPARC - are planning to mobilize around 700 families in 7 slums to participate in design and construction to upgrade their homes. Upgrading is taking place under a scheme administered by the Pune Municipal Corporation that offers subsidies to eligible households living in structures made of recycled materials for rebuilding 265 square-foot homes on roughly the existing footprint. The scheme also provides for improvement of infrastructure, roads and basic amenities. In Pune alone 4,000 families will benefit from this scheme.


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Led by a team of architect and designers, the Incremental Housing Strategy is creative first in the design of the houses - customized for the communities' special needs. Learning from existing typologies, three house prototypes have been developed for the families to choose from. Because some families have no means to give the 10% financial contribution, alternatives have been worked out. These include the family’s involvement in demolishing the existing house, construction process, bringing their own floor tiles and painting the house the color they want. Particularly in India color is very important. This process will also lead to the customization of the individual house (within the tight parameters of space and budget) and the vernacular character of this local architecture is maintained. p v xx

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The Incremental Housing Strategy distinguishes itself by its bottom-up process. It is a type of involvement that can be termed as “empowered participation”. Because Mahila Milan have a vast organizational base; skills in financial management, data collection, construction, and collaboration with government authorities they are able to lead a process in which communities are genuine partners.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Filipe Balestra, Sara Göransson and SPARC are now spreading the word to implement the strategy in other countries with similar needs such as Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines. 1/3 of the world’s urban population is now living in slums.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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