The architectural discipline has always maintained a safe distance from the ‘informal’ settlements by positioning itself as objective outsiders. However, in the case of India’s capital city of Delhi with 73% of its population living in these settlements, the discipline has been forced to re-position itself. Forming outside the claims of regulation and planning, the sheer existence of these settlements challenges the city’s aspiration to become a ‘world city’. Resultant, is a love-hate dynamic where a high-modernist design propaganda seeks to evict the urban poor’s position in the city to a ‘safe’ distance where they are out of sight but in the appropriate range to aid the city function.
I base my study in ‘Savda Ghevra’, Delhi’s first resettlement colony developed 24 miles outside the city core to re-house slum dwellers evicted from inner city areas. Envisioned as a transition camp, it is home to more than 20,000 inhabitants for a period within which they are expected to rise the economical ladder until they are deemed fit to claim a position in the city. The design of the ‘camp’, involved a process of ‘formalizing’ the informal and invited disciplinarian aid, which by the virtue of ‘always being outside the system’ was exceedingly limited in the understanding and translational of the emergent qualities of a user-generated informal dwelling. With rigid dwelling typologies, unregulated open/shared space structure and an incoherent application of ‘incrementality’, Savda Ghevra is an architectural mess.
This thesis attempts an iteration to existing approaches by offering income-based alternatives to typology creation and usage, while providing a participatory tool to create and curate open spaces in Indian informal settlements as a way forward.