A BRIEF NOTE ON ARANYA HOUSING PROJECT, INDORE, MP, (1990's)

INTRODUCTION

THE HOUSING SITUATION IN INDORE

The two main government agencies catering to the city’s housing needs are the Indore Development Authority (IDA) and the Madhya Pradesh housing Board (MPHB). According to the 1991 census almost 3.5 Lacs, which form almost 35%of the city’s population are living in the slums. This population is likely to be double in next 10 years. As per a survey in 1990, over two-thirds of the slum families live below poverty line earning less than Rs. 1000 per month. The existing housing stock was needed to be replaced. Almost 40% of households live in one room tenements.

Slums in Indore are characterized by overcrowding, Kutcha or dilapidated structures, unhygienic conditions, grossly inadequate basic amenities, unplanned layouts and poor accessibility. These areas generally house economically weaker sections of the community who are often engaged in casual service occupations.

THE ARANYA PROJECT

This low-cost housing project is undertaken by IDA to meet the acute shortage of housing and ancillary facilities, particularly for the economically weaker section (EWS) and to ensure a balanced development. The funding agencies of this project, HUDCO and World Bank stipulated that a minimum 65% of the plots be affordable by the EWS without any external subsidies. So upper income plots were incorporated into the scheme to be sold at a profit in order to raise surplus capital. This surplus is being used to cross subsidize the EWS pots and to create a revolving fund to assist EWS construction, to set up material banks and to provide funds for future developments of similar nature.

The planning and design was done by Vastu Shilpa Foundation to accommodate almost 7,000 housing units (a population of almost 40,000) in various income categories.

THE SITE AND ITS ENVIRONS

The Aranya Township is sited on the Delhi-Bombay highway; approximately 6 k.m. from the city centre of Indore. The net area of the site is 88.6 hectares, squarish in plan and measures almost 1k.m. X1k.m. The site is almost flat with no major physical features except a natural rainwater channel, which runs diagonally across the southeast corner. The site slopes from east to northwest at a gradient of 1in 110, which is used to reduce infrastructure costs. The other natural factors which have been taken into consideration are the geology and climatic factors (composite climate). A dense to moderately dense ,low-rise built form is adopted.

ARANYA: PHILOSOPHY AND DESIGN METHODOLOGY

2.1 BROAD GOALS OF ARANYA

The broad goals of Aranya are:

  • Vitality

  • Imageability

  • Equity

  • Efficiency

  • Flexibility

  • Feasibility

2.2 SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCERN

The site and services concept was adopted predominantly for EWS population.

The issues, which were considered:

  • Indigenous character of built form to suit the lifestyles- clarity of spatial hierarchy, informality, and dense, low rise built form with courtyards and narrow streets.

  • Site and services approach- the basic building cores were provided on serviced plots, the built form can be extended by the occupants. Emphasis is on providing building materials, technical know how, finances and simple building regulations, which can be adhered to.

  • Reconsideration of norms and standards – To optimize on costs, new standard were evolved, which are relevant and affordable in the present socio-economic context.

  • Optimization of Land Use- to ensure economic viability, the optimization of land utilization is very important. This is achieved by: a: increasing the proportion of marketable land, b. by increasing the areas allocated to residential plots, c. multiple use of public spaces.

  • Marketability of Land and the Concept of cross- subsidy- upper income housing sold at profit and located on wider roads to get better prices, Non- residential uses, particularly commercial land uses, organized around the major network in order to generate more revenue.

  • Economy of Infrastructure and Road network- Physical features of the site were used to reduce the cost of infrastructure.

  • Hierarchy and size of communities within a settlement-The various hierarchies of spatial organization were adopted at township level, sector level, community level, cluster level and dwelling unit level

THE PLANNING AND DESIGN OF ARANYA

In 1976 the Habitat Bill of Rights, coauthored by B V Doshi and other architects, was submitted by the Govt. of Iran to the U N Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver. In this document, a comprehensive code of human habitat at both micro and macro levels was developed. In the Indore scheme, an attempt has been made to realize the recommendations therein which fall within the purview of the architectural and planning study. As stated before, the planning and design of Aranya has been done at different levels. A check-list of desirable design parameters was compiled, based on the past experience, for each level.

3.1 THE SERVICE CORE

In any ‘site and services ‘scheme the service cores form nuclei around which the houses grow and the communities eventually develop. Insensitivity to the social and physical needs of the people in this respect can condemn the whole community to an unpleasant future. Water supply and sanitation constitute the largest cost components of such developments, and therefore the service core and the supporting infrastructure become the critical elements of design.

3.1.1 Design Parameters

  • Social impact: privacy from street and within living areas

  • Health and hygiene: adequate sanitation, individual WC, isolation

  • Environmental impact: house and street environments

  • Integration with the dwelling

  • Adaptability for alternative sewage treatment/disposal

  • Energy conservation/ recycling

  • Radical streamlining of the services

  • Easy maintenance of service lines

  • Structure: efficient and sympathetic

  • Economy: services, structure, substructure, core layout

For the most effective location of the service core within a dwelling in relation to the service lines, four alternatives commonly adopted were studied:

  1. Toilets at the front, facing the street, with the service lines in the street.

  2. Toilets at the back connected to the service lines in the street with pipes running under the floors.

  3. Toilets in the back courtyards with common service lines running through the backyards of one of the rows of the back-to-back houses.

  4. Community toilets and water taps.

Each of these alternatives failed to meet one or many of the design parameters. A new proposal was then evolved through a study for a more sensitive and economic system.

3.1.2 Design Proposals

In this proposal, clusters of 9and 10 houses were developed around open plots reserved for services. The service cores in the rear courtyards combine in the multiples of twos and fours to discharge individually into gully traps and an inspection chamber sited on each service slot. The service slot in turn links to the street service lines, which are halved in number to one per every alternate street (i.e. one line for every four rows of houses). Thus:

-Individual toilets and washing facilities are provided in each dwelling.

-By placing toilets at the back, they are isolated from other daily activities in the houses. The rear courtyards help to ventilate the toilets.

-The service core is carefully designed to extend into a full house at a later date with minimal disruptions. (i.e. flexible)

-The system is versatile enough to accommodate alternative sewage treatment method such as small biogas plants, septic tanks and soak wells, discharge into city sewers etc.

-Service lines from service cores to the service slots are short, manholes and main supply lines are reduced to one per every nine or ten dwellings and the main service lines are halved in numbers to one per every alternate street. Although the service slots have taken the space but overall savings are substantial.

THE DWELLING

In the e planning of new township, the work commences at the master plan level and proceeds down to individual dwellings. The clusters and the dwellings are thus locked in to a format as residues. To avoid this, detailed dwelling plans and elevations have been prepared with master plan to be fused into the whole.

Design Parameters

  • Life style and daily needs

  • Unique identity: sense of entrance, variation of forms

  • Spaces: within and without the dwelling

  • Privacy: within the dwelling and from the outside

  • Climate control: orientation, light, cross-ventilation

  • Elasticity and flexibility,

  • Rear access: for subletting, for bicycles, and for cattle, etc.

  • Efficiency: of plot size, walls and foundations, circulation

  • Structure: appropriate materials and construction methods

  • Economy in the dwelling costs

Design proposal

  • The dwellings are planned to suit the Indian way of lifestyle with traditional features such as the Ottas (the entrance platforms) verandahs, courtyards and roof terraces.

  • With variations in Ottas, entrances, staircases, verandahs and balconies within the same layouts, each house gains a unique character. The variations in the house type around the service slots with protruding stairwells, as also the variations in the plot sizes at cul-de-sacs, further enrich the streetscape.

  • The Otta is designed in a way to provide public space can be used as small shop, workshop etc. While the rear courtyard provides the private space for the house. The balcony and roof terraces create additional spaces especially for sleeping out in summer nights.

  • The house entrances and balconies are staggered across the street to avoid direct view into the opposite houses.

  • The houses are designed to receive ample natural light and generous cross-ventilation. The orientation of the house was decided by keeping climatic factors in the mind.

  • Flexibility: basic core can be absorbed into the future ground floor extensions without costly alterations.

  • The units around service slots have additional rear access for cattle etc.

  • Simple on-site precast and prefabricated units were recommended which can also create employment within community

THE STREET/ CLUSTER LEVEL

A well-designed street can encourage a collection of individual households to merge into an interactive group. To achieve this, the street must assume a unique identity on a human scale with spaces for group activities.

Design Parameters

  • Human scale and relationships

  • Unique identity and sense of character

  • Street vistas and environment

  • Spaces for people

  • Space for income generation

  • Public utilities and amenities

  • Access

  • Safety

  • Economy

Design Proposal

- In this scheme, dwellings were planned around short streets; cul-de-sacs and courtyards form clusters of manageable size which foster group activities. Interconnecting and informal walkways are provided to extend personal contacts beyond the street level.

-To impart a unique identity to each cluster in sympathy with the cultural traditions, a considered use has been made of public squares, landmarks, twists and staggers in the street patterns, widening and narrowing of the streets, variations in house elevations and such other devices. Trees on the road verges and in other open spaces can create pleasant vistas along the walkways as well as provide shaded focal points. – Spaces such as large public spaces, courtyards, small niches in street pattern, Ottas and service slots provide informal gathering spaces as well as convenient play grounds for young ones. Especially service slots make safe areas for the children to play in. – Front verandahs of the houses, public squares and service slots can be used for income generating activities to supplement the income of the families. – All the essential utilities such as water supply, sewerage, and surfaced roads storm water drainage, electricity lines etc. are provided in EWS areas. – Each and every dwelling provided direct access by a surfaced road. The minimum width of street in EWS areas is kept as 4.5 m to provide adequate widths for emergency vehicles as well as to prevent a check-by-jowl existence. –The walkways within and in between the clusters safely channel the pedestrians from the dwellings right through to the town centre with minimal interference from vehicular traffic.

- For the economy of land use major roads were used for commercial land use and wider roads has upper income group housing.

THE SECTOR LEVEL

In India ,the people continue to live , work and play within easy walking distances. Therefore in planning a new town intertwined sectors have to be designed to become viable, almost autonomous, sub-communities.

Design Parameters

  • Quality of habitat

  • Use of natural features

  • Local characteristics and lifestyle of the people

  • Social interaction and integration

  • Community spirit

  • Land use and open spaces

  • Pedestrian/Vehicular movements

  • Economy

Design Proposal

-The EWS category is placed around the large green spaces to offset the high net densities. The open spaces within and without the EWS areas are linked by informal walkways.

-Surplus soil from road excavations is used to create artificial mounds above flat landscape. This provides an aesthetic appeal to township.

-The Indian characteristics of relaxed informality or the organic character of settlements is used for the arrangements of the clusters and the spaces in between especially for EWS clusters.

-To avoid segregation caused by income differences whilst maintaining the marketability of the upper income plots which subsidize the EWS housing, the plots are arranged in concentric rings of diminishing sizes. The outer rings of larger and more expensive plots have good vehicular access. Behind these, the long term construction of EWS houses can progress to maturity. The inner lower income plots cluster around the open spaces with the emphasis on pedestrian traffic. No categories accessible through a lower category but their independence is reinforced with pedestrian linkages.

- The size and organization of each sector is determined to incorporate all the basic facilities such as schools, medical centers, shopping, workshops, open spaces etc.

- By encouraging multiple uses in the open spaces, the land is optimized without the loss of spaciousness.

- The majority of the inhabitants are unlikely to own powered vehicles. Out of consideration for them, the walking distances are reduced to minimum of five minutes walk to any community facility or open space within a sector.

THE AREA/ TOWNSHIP LEVEL

The mere assemblage of various elements cited above does not make a township. There has to be a higher theme and an overall order within which the components have a meaning. A township needs a focus and a well-ordered hierarchy of all amenities in a balanced and cohesive environment.

Design Parameters

  • Focus and identity of the township

  • Cohesion of areas and the activities

  • Accessibility of general facilities

  • Community and institutional provisions

  • Road engineering and safety

  • Hierarchy of roads

  • Hierarchy of open spaces and walking distances

  • Hierarchy of commercial activities

Design Proposals

- The area is been designed to have its own identity as well as to fit within the urban fabric of Indore. Multi-storied commercial, residential, community complexes and main sports field is integrated with the centre to emphasize their importance to the whole of the community.

- Every access whether vehicular or pedestrian converges into the town centre through their independent networks. The central facilities surrounded at three sides by the EWS housing and directly connected to the higher income groups with the spine road.

- All the required institutional and community facilities are provided according to the hierarchy of settlement.

- hierarchy of roads from 60 m wide highway to 4.5 m wide EWS internal road and 3.56m wide pedestrian links has been provided.

- Hierarchy of open spaces and commercial activities is provided within the walking distances.