India’s existing infrastructural security is limited to those with privilege –– any neighbourhood in any major city is guest to some great urban planning, but if one is to take a look at the housing facilities of some financially under-resourced communities, the conditions are nothing more than deplorable.
Low-cost housing and infrastructure is always the need of the hour, but to be smart, efficient, and impactful about the thinking process is where most Indian areas (and their respective municipalities) miss the mark. A wonderful example was set by architecture studio, Community Design Agency (CDA) –– their Sanjaynagar slum project that began in 2018 has aimed to include the inhabitants in the process and cater to their needs right from the start.
In Ahmednagar near Mumbai, there are several informal settlements, and Sanjaynagar is one of them. To transform the lives of those who lived there, CDA involved the residents of Sanjaynagar in every imperative process. They spent four months gaining consensus and helping them understand the desired outcome of the project. The 298 families will receive, after wholehearted participation and input, a bright low-rise building complex with greenery and open space –– a much-needed replacement for the unsafe temporary homes made with metal sheets and scraps. The families also had the chance to choose certain personalised features in their new homes.
“Our design intends to preserve the social fabric of the community, through thoughtful and purpose-driven planning and architecture.”— Sandhya Naidu Janardhan, Managing Director, Community Design Agency (via Fast Company)
The spirit of their community was kept intact through the design process. Spaces for children to play and elders to gather were ensured. In fact, the residents were initially apprehensive about living in a multi-storey building. To come to an agreed-upon conclusion, they were asked to think of ways to fit enough homes in the given space in a single-storey manner, and when they could not derive a solution, they all agreed that the multi-storey approach is the best way to go about this.
This redevelopment project acts as a reminder that inclusive design is the need of the hour. ‘Help’ need not always come in the form of it being thrust upon someone. Ensuring one’s involvement in what is going to impact them directly is essential in delivering a result that brings joy to everyone involved.
The below-par and insufficient housing of Sanjaynagar remained a constant threat to the safety and health of its residents, but through a collaborative and mindful approach, CDA and the other organisations involved will be able to turn that around. The new homes will stand as a testament to the wholesome success of creating an inclusive environment where each individual knows they are cared for.
Find Community Design Agency here.
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