Negotiating shared spaces in informal peri-urban settlements in North India : collaborative architectural making as a catalyst for civic empowerment and social change

Tang, Bo (2014) Negotiating shared spaces in informal peri-urban settlements in North India : collaborative architectural making as a catalyst for civic empowerment and social change. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

This research investigates the nature and creation of common places in informal peri-urban settlements in North India through negotiation and sharing. It aims to develop a profound understanding of the effect of the post-hoc introduction of amenity buildings and city infrastructure in the creation of common places. The approach takes collaborative architectural making as a catalyst for civic empowerment and social change, discussed primarily through first-hand experience of practical small-scale live interventions in two urban conditions of scarce resources. These interventions serve as case studies.

The research hypothesises that the social structure and order of shared spaces is continually transforming, adjusting and being re-made to accommodate the changing urban conditions within low-income settlements.The informal negotiation of these common spaces creates a shared collective identity. This study suggests that collaborative place-making engenders a renewed understanding or interpretation (by the urban migrant/citizen) of the nature of common places, in which the origins or memory of the traditional rural village are transformed into a new situation of the urban village within the host city.

Central to the research was the development of spatial practices through small-scale interventions in two peri-urban settlements, which acted as vehicles for understanding the civic and institutional order of town for all constituents (including myself as PhD by Practice).

The contribution to knowledge proposed by this research is two-fold:

(a) the first part (chapter 2) addresses spatial practices and develops a methodology for collaborative making by which this is both understood and created.

(b) the second part (chapter 3) uses these methods as a basis (research tool) to understand the nature of civic order in informal peri-urban settlements in North India, and the way the institutional/civic order of these settlements is made. In this way, the thesis provides insights which broaden and deepen our understanding of shared spatiality beyond the concept of 'public space'.

The two case studies of on-going live projects provide the empirical basis for this study:

(1) The Kachhpura Settlement Upgrading Project (KSUP) started in 2006 focuses on sanitation in Agra, beginning with the introduction of household toilets leading to a natural Decentralised Waste Water Treatment System (DEWATS) turning foul drain effluent into a community resource for clean water.

(2) The Quarry Classrooms Project initiated in 2008 deals with amenity buildings in quarry worker settlements in Navi Mumbai. Both projects were carried out in collaboration with Indian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), local communities, and architectural researchers and students from London Metropolitan University, involving a strong hands-on participatory approach from the bottom up.

Connections are established between improved access for basic services, amenities and facilities, and the opportunities for creating common places, leading to suggestions for improving, appropriating and cultivating shared territories in today's informal peri-urban settlements, both culturally and physically. Insights are gained into the role of architectural professionals and students as designers, makers and curators in partnering with the local NGO and settlement families. The study concludes with suggestions on how the notion of cooperative place-making might be applied in other situations of rapid change and scarce resources where architect, NGO and local population might collaborate to provide shared infrastructure and community facilities, creating opportunities for improving livelihoods and the quality of life within informal peri-urban settlements in North India.

Through the approach of collaborative architectural making as a catalyst for civic empowerment and social change, this study makes explicit a process that was implicit before, a process which enables the creation of social and political institutions for marginalised people to participate as citizens within the host city.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Live projects, making, architecture, Agra (India), Navi Mumbai (India)
Subjects: 700 The arts; fine & decorative arts > 720 Architecture
Department: The CASS
Depositing User: Bo Tang
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 09:38
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2019 09:38
URI: http://repository.londonmet.ac.uk/id/eprint/4538

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