Project description by jury
Ambujwadi is an informal settlement of around 60,0000 people in north-west Mumbai. Typical civic amenities have never been installed here, so the community struggles, day after day, to obtain basic services such as water supply, sanitation facilities or waste management. In such a situation, that in essence withholds social, political and economic support, the project proposes to use architecture as a way to transform the neighborhood and dignify Ambujwadi’s residents through the integration of dedicated social spaces that legitimate the settlement and thus embody a message of political solidarity. The idea is to position a series of multi-functional community towers across the neighborhood. Through the reuse of waste materials, the structures are built in a rather informal and creative way by local construction workers, enabling the neighborhood dwellers to express their own identity. The towers thereby appear as playful urban artifacts that showcase how architecture can upgrade the value of an existing built environment and its quality of living. The buildings’ programs range from offices to educational and youth centers, from public toilets to NGOs centers, and from a health clinic to an animal shelter. To ensure the energy and economic sustainability of the towers, the project considers the integration of renewable energy systems as well as revenue generation strategies to recover the buildings’ construction and operation costs.
The LafargeHolcim Awards jury Asia Pacific applauded this project that reveals both a great sensitivity in understanding critical issues in slums, and a bold and fresh attitude in finding an appropriate solution to legitimate and dignify the bond between people and their place. Through impressive drawings and a pleasant narrative, the proposal shows an optimistic vision on how architecture can be deployed to upgrade life in Mumbai’s informal communities.
Self-sustaining tower development typologies
The strategy here is to bring to attention that housing is not the only solution for the “slum issue”. Return of investment has to be provided to any developers, agency or investor; in order to manifest such structures. Hence the integration of systems that aid in generating some revenue over time, to cover up for cost of construction and provide for operation costs. Such systems are – photo-voltaic cells and wind turbines on the roof, rainwater harvesting systems, telecommunication cell towers to generate rent from providers, co-op Wi-Fi systems, certain percentage of area for rent/lease, public toilets generated income, advertisements on facade, etc. The buildings can be modified as per user needs. Each type (S, M, L) has its own limitations and possibilities (as mentioned in drawings).
Development with contextual resources
Developing these tower typologies in slums have to be done to the minimum footprint. The structures are 7.5m x 7.5m (S), 10m x 10m (M), 15m x 15m (L). The small & medium type can also be built in the negative spaces too. The structural systems vary as per the building size: Steel frame for the large type as we need the structure to occupy less area (also an opportunity to train the locals this construction method). RCC structure for medium and small types (familiar construction technique to the workers) with cheaper and sustainable nonstructural infills. Each tower will be unique to its context, as the slum users are highly efficient and creative in reusing materials. This process also leads to employment in the slums, as the majority are construction workers.
The lower working class struggle the most, survival in the city is so hard and frustrating for them: They have less or no social, political, or economic support. Space is scarce and too valuable to be given to them. Building a home is uneasy. No respect for their time and relationships. They have always been disunited within their kind and the city. The development of the “Urban Artifacts” not only fulfill the spatial requirements for the user, but they also act as platforms for the lower working class in fostering their society to form a strong unity within themselves. These are objects of expression in three scales: neighborhood (S), community (M) and the urban (L).See more
Ambudjwadi is an informal settlement in northwest Mumbai. Its inhabitants are socially, economically, and politically marginalized. Urban infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. “In cities like Mumbai, the policies for informal settlements state that formal housing is the only alternative,” explains the local architect and prizewinner Lorenzo Fernandes. “My project argues that housing already exists there; it merely lacks infrastructure and amenities.”
The project therefore aims to build mid-rise buildings within the informal community. They occupy little space but provide a great deal of usable floor area. The towers will be built by local construction workers so that the residents can express their own identity. The buildings will house offices, training facilities, a health care center, and public restaurants. Renewable energy systems will ensure sustainable and economical operation. “This project is a very interesting approach to land use,” says Marilyne Andersen: “It is an archipunctural intervention that brings in new social spaces on a vertical scale, giving slums a new legitimacy.” The jury assesses the concept as an optimistic vision of how architecture can enhance social life.Read more »
Next Generation 2nd prize winner Towers of Strength in India – Multifunctional amenities and services in informal …
Next Generation 2nd prize winner Lorenzo Fernandes, architect, Mumbai, India for Towers of Strength in India – …
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