In Ahmednagar, slum dwellers design their own homes

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Space is definitely a constraint, but the residents themselves have demonstrated how out-of-the-box design thinking can help open up a development. “The way people who live in slums use space is the most efficient,” she says, “In fact, when architects and planners come in, we introduce inefficiencies in many ways, because we’re so conditioned to say, for example, this is your living room and this is your dining room.On the other hand, they can have their dining space, their study space and their kitchen space in the same place.

An example of an apartment in the Swapnapurti building.

Rajesh Vora

Take a look at the kitchen area.

Rajesh Vora

According to the agency’s module, each 306-square-foot unit includes a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and balcony. The agency then allowed for customizations based on the family’s individual circumstances. “There is a particular section where a mother and her three sons have qualified for housing, and all the sons have families,” Janardhan explains. “We gave them the ability to connect via a staircase internally, so we kept the family units together.” Families only needed one kitchen between them, which meant that two of the kitchens could be repurposed for other functions. The family matriarch ran a store and requested that her kitchen be turned into a display case, complete with a counter and a storage section. The second has been transformed into a study room.

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