Slums are one of the most persistent questions of megalopolises. In 2008, for the first time in history more people live in cities than in rural areas, and one third of them – more than 1 billion – dwell in poor, informal and under-served homes in slums. The number might double in the next 25 years.How to deal with that challenge?
Slum dwellers tend to live in high density. To move them into high-rises, walk-ups or prefab cottages did answer the question. High-rise buildings may meet the density requirement, but fail to create socially and economically adequate spaces; in contrast, conventional walk ups and cottages don’t generate sufficient density so that some or all slum dwellers are shifted to other locations, disrupting their social and economic networks at their current locations.
Open Building offers a solution, providing serviced construction sites within collective support structures in efficient and affordable ways, which the user-occupants can leverage for inserting self-managed construction. This hybrid approach, bridging the gap between formal top-down and community-drive bottom-up processes, allows harvesting the entrepreneurial and proactive approach of the informal sector within a publicly controlled formal and organized environment.
Slums could transform incrementallyinto livable neighborhoods with solid low-rise high-density support structures around courtyards and public spaces. Solid three-floor support structures allow residents to develop their own homes, workplaces, small commercial and cultural activities – and can even accommodate schools, clinics or other public amenities. Roofs may be utilized for urban agriculture, solar energy and/or rainwater harvesting. Courtyards can be used for economic and social activities and/or for environmental gains, for example through grey water reuse. More information to find in project/slum-transformation.
The transformation of a poor area into a formal settlement creates an enabling environment that can trigger local economic development, provide a platform for social organizing and self-help, and sustain life-affirming employment opportunities for the urban poor – thereby, addressing some of the most pressing development challenges captured in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The consultancy supports design and process assistance, e.g. facilitating community participation and multi-stakeholder collaboration, and provides on-the-job capacity development to professionals and decision makers. Potential solutions (including a financial strategy and partnership building) will be discussed within the local context. Slum dwellers are offered a seat at the table.