Transformation of slums

Slums are one of the most persistent questions of megacities. In 2008, for the first time in history more people, including the very poor, live in cities than in rural areas. One third of them – more than 1 billion – stay in illegally built dangerous and unhealthy slums without infrastructure. The number might double in the next 25 years. How to deal with that challenge?

Slum dwellers live in high density.  Some governments try to solve this problem by moving slum dwellers into proper newly built high-rises, walk-ups or prefab cabins. However, those top-down initiatives tent to disrupt established social, cultural and economical structures or fail to meet the needed high density, and eviction is not an answer. 


The Open Building concept could offer a welcome alternative, because it combines top-down and bottom-up activities. Top-down an urban tissue of streets, courtyards and squares (with main piping and wiring) could accomodate access.  Bottom-up they might be shaped by simple base-buildings, supports, that can changeably be subdivided into units of different sizes such as dwellings, shops, schools, spaces for small and medium entreprises, public amenities and so on, all to be finished by the users. 

This hybrid approach, bridging the gap between formal top-down and community-drive bottom-up activities, combines the entrepreneurial and proactive approach of the informal sector within a publicly controlled and organized environment.


The consultancy aims to assist in the initiative, programming, design and execution a pilot project. For instance this low-rise high-density base-building structure around courtyards and streets. The solid structure of three floors and galleries allow residents to develop their homes and other activities. The common roofs could be utilized for urban agriculture, solar energy and the harvesting of rain water. Courtyards could encorage neighborhood life and be used for economic and other activities and also for environmental gains, for example through grey water reuse. You will find detailed information in the project 'Transformation of slums'.

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.


Cost: travel and stay.