Sunday, November 27, 2011

Incremental Upgrading in India
An interesting project surfaced on Dezeen that highlighted an incremental upgrading strategy in Pune, India, which was to be designed to be implemented in other places as well.  While the images provide a provocative and compelling new vision of the community, they are basically reorganizing and formalizing what the people and the communities are already doing.  It does beg the question if we give ourselves (architects) too much credit for coming up with something new and game changing. 
In this case, and for incremental housing in general, architects do well to just understand and build off of what is already existing and how people live their lives.  Fortunately, in this scheme, there is vertical flexibility for the types of spaces that can be produced and used, highlighting commercial space on either the bottom or second floor, which is ubiquitous in India slums.  I would have liked more information on the process of engagement with the community and costs.  I commend the project for getting the basics right, and for SPARC and Slum Dwellers International to help move forward this idea of development.  The mass customization and focus and attention on the uniqueness of colors detracts from the value of this project.  Anyone know how it has progressed and if any units have been built?