Incremental cities : discovering the sweet spot for making town-within-a-city

King, Julia (2016) Incremental cities : discovering the sweet spot for making town-within-a-city. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis studies how utterly marginalised people acquire acceptance or credibility - therefore participation - in the established civic and economic processes of a larger host municipality. In particular the signifi cance to this aspiration of incremental house and city-making is explored. The primary vehicle of interpretation is Savda Ghvera, a large resettlement colony for people resettled from central Delhi, for which the author organised a central sewerage system, which in turn became the basis for a neighbourhood association with political influence. Incrementalism describes a process of city-making in increments - as materials, time, etc. become available - mostly through the [self-] building of houses which, in their later stages, can support commercial or other activities. The main concern of this thesis is two-fold. Firstly it studies “shared incrementalism”, or the degree to which a commitment arises to a social and political context greater than an aggregate of individual houses. Secondly, it studies the role of making in creating the conditions for sharing, and with that, the roles of a visiting architect-researcher. On one hand, the constraints upon marginalised peoples are severe, and it is impossible to accurately assess the depth of commitment to both house and to a larger social and political order. On the other hand, it is evident that the opportunities for collaboration are volatile, constantly shifting, and that the virtues of solidarity are not necessarily accepted at face value. The process of shared incrementalism is seen through the lens of Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘freedom’ in the context of global capitalism, which places stress on what he terms ‘capacity-building’. The term emphasises the capacity of an individual to escape poverty and acquire dignity, whereas this thesis studies not only how this might be achieved through shared incrementalism but also the conditions under which this sharing might be converted into long-term political solidarity. Accordingly, comparison is made between Savda Ghevra and older resettlement colonies that have been absorbed by ever-expanding Delhi.

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