Case Study

Aranya Township, Indore, India: a sites-and-services scheme (1983-96)

Aranya (meaning forest) Township is a 7000-plot predominantly sites-and-services project located on an 86-hectare (212-acre) site on the fringe of Indore. The scheme was created for a projected population of about nine people per household making a total of 63,000 people. The developer was the Indore Development Authority (IDA) and the architect was Balkrishna V. Doshi and his Vastu Shilpa Foundation of Ahmedabad. The target population was mixed - 65% low-income people (the EWS, Economically Weaker Section) whose income was less than Rs 350 (1990$US30) per month and 35% higher income. The project thus had a social objective as well as providing shelter. The mix of people is more than on economic grounds. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians live there.

The project was one in which plots were prepared and services provided by the IDA but the construction of houses was left to the owners of the plots. Five objectives dictated the design: (1) to ensure a fine living environment, (2) to create a sense of community, (3) to deal with the hot arid climate, (4) to create an efficient, cost-effective armature into which individual buildings could be plugged and (5) to provide for the way that life in low-income areas in India spills out onto the street and, in arid areas, onto the flat roofs of buildings.

Figure 10.21 Aranya Township, Indore. (a) Typical building sites with service cores, (b) the site plan and (c) the type of development anticipated.

Figure 10.21 Aranya Township, Indore. (a) Typical building sites with service cores, (b) the site plan and (c) the type of development anticipated.

The infrastructure was laid out in a hierarchical manner with a central collecting point from where services branch to smaller collecting points to points on each block that serve a number of units. The location of the latrines was a problem. It is most economical to provide them in the front of buildings so that connections to mains are short, but the past research of the Vastu Shilpa Foundation at other sites-and-services projects had shown that this arrangement was much disliked by those who took up such plots. The latrines are thus at the back of the lots (see Figure 10.21a).

The site plan is innovative. Essentially a gridiron plan, it is arranged in a modified concentric pattern to create a mosaic of income-segregated sub-areas that build up into an integrated whole (see Figure 10.21b). The periphery of each sector is ringed with large plots entered directly from a road with the lower-income plots in the interior. The street pattern follows a hierarchy from larger roads to cul-de-sacs that form the smallest, and most heavily used, unit of communal space. The sale at a profit of the plots for the higher-income group subsidized services for the lower.

Community facilities are located at the centre of the plan and fingers of open space thread from there to the edges of the site. The core is arranged in a linear fashion and consists of four clusters of mixed commercial and retail uses. The large shops face the street and the small the courtyards. A school and athletic field are located on the edge of the core. The site layout makes it possible to reach the core from the periphery of the site in a 10-minute walk. Work places are integrated into the plan. Much small-scale retail, commercial and industrial activity takes place in the streets and in the houses. It was anticipated that the houses would be built to have a verandah facing the street, a room with the kitchen behind it and the latrines in the back. A second floor could then be tacked on (see Figure 10.21c). The latrine-kitchen relationship is not ideal in Hindu households but economics, the desire to not walk past a latrine on entering the house, and the need for privacy dictate it. A demonstration project designed by Doshi was built to show potential residents the type of development that could take place. Is the scheme a success? It won the Aga Kahn award for design in 1995.

Major references

Bhatt, Vikram and Peter Scriver (1990). Aranya Township, Indore. In After the Masters. Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishing, 98-9. Doshi, Balkrishna V. (1988). Aranya township. In Mimar 28: Architecture in Development. Singapore: Concept Media, 24-9. pubdownloader/pdf/4644/doc/dpt0587.pdf Steele, James (1998). Aranya low-cost housing. In The Complete Works of Balkrishna Doshi: Rethinking Modernism for the Developing World. London: Thames and Hudson, 114-29.

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